The Lin-Credible Rise Of US Basketball Star

Greg Milam, Sky US correspondent

He is a headline writer's dream - and America is gripped by what they call 'Lin-sanity'. Even the White House says it is following the remarkable story of Jeremy Lin.

The 23-year-old was a virtual unknown a couple of weeks ago but since then he has made the most extraordinary impact on American basketball.

He has smashed the modern-day record for most points scored by a player in their first five games - scoring with half a second left to win one of those games.

And all of this playing in New York for the Knicks as the NBA's first American-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent - Lin has become an instant celebrity on two basketball-crazy continents.

A Harvard graduate born in Silicon Valley, Lin arrived in New York in December having already been released by two clubs this season.

He did not expect to last and slept on the sofa at a team-mate's flat.

Now he has a contract for the rest of the season and Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said: "I don't know when there's an ending, maybe there won't be. He's going to be a good player."

Not surprisingly, the nation's most famous basketball fan has noticed.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that the Lin phenomenon is "just a great story, and the President was saying as much this morning".

Not everyone is so thrilled. Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr says Lin is just doing the same as numerous black players but getting more attention because of his Asian heritage.

Lin himself simply says: "I believe in an all-powerful and all-knowing God who does miracles."

Replica shirts bearing his name are now the NBA's best-seller, viewing parties have been held in New York's Chinatown and ratings are up in China as well with TV stations across Asia rushing to add Knicks games to their broadcasts.

Orin Starn, professor of cultural anthropology at Duke University, said Lin's emergence was a "coming out party for Asian-Americans" under-represented in sport and entertainment despite a growing population.

He said: "I think it is appealing to a lot of Americans when somebody comes along that seems to break out of this set of stereotype."

Lin is also in demand as a brand. Marketing analyst Greg Busch said: "Everybody's looking at him right now and everyone wants to be a part of it but they're also wondering where the ceiling is.

"A bad game or two and we're asking how far does this drop back or settle down?"

The Knicks hope not. Before Lin, they were 40-1 odds to win the NBA championship - now they're 18-1.


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