You’ve seen and read the stats, and the media coverage has been everywhere about the NBA’s newest sensation, New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin. Yet very few get to see just how deeply his intensity is penetrating at Madison Square Garden these days. It’s permeating the atmosphere even more than what you see on TV or from the stands.
The Knicks won their fifth straight game on Saturday, but their Friday night victory over the visiting Lakers officially stamped Lin as a bonafide instant star. He outplayed Kobe Bryant on the NBA’s biggest stage, and finally, it seemed, a home player was the one owning the building. Too often in recent years, opposing superstars would come to the Garden and make it their own playground.
After Lin dropped a career-high 38 points on the Lakers, though, the media waited expectantly for Bryant to come to his locker for a postgame address. Once he arrived, Bryant did not have to deal immediately with questions about road struggles or depth, two issues that the Lakers have been battling with this year. Instead, he was peppered with questions about Jeremy Lin.
Bryant coolly admitted that while Lin’s talent had likely always been there, it had likely not been recognized to that point. Which begs the question, when the league sees more of Lin, will they be better prepared for him?
For now, Lin is the most unlikely superstar in New York since Victor Cruz, who just got off the Super Bowl stage. But Lin may be at the center of New York’s hearts more than Cruz right now. Cruz was sitting at courtside Saturday, but he was just another spectator for most of the night, it seemed.
Before Bryant, Andrew Bynum, who makes Bill Belichick look like a showstopper in terms of personality with the media, calmly and listlessly fielded a few questions about Lin, as did many of the Lakers. Everywhere you walked in the Lakers locker room, you heard the name of that night’s opponent. Pau Gasol tried to keep the focus off Lin, but the media kept firing away to him and all of his teammates.
For once, it seemed as the New York locker room was as much of a madhouse as the clubhouse of the glamorous opponent. Reporters crowded around the likes of Steve Novak and Jared Jeffries. A horde of media types waited to talk to rookie Imam Shumpert. Former Knicks such as Bernard King, Anthony Mason and John Starks seemed to revel in a kinetic atmosphere not seen since their respective playing days.
Before the game, Knicks fan Spike Lee, who always seems to find the spotlight whenever some New York team is playing well, answered questions about Lin from several media outlets about the Knicks’ newest star. He confirmed to TheXLog that he was certainly excited about Lin, as every other Knicks fan is. Lee had less enthusiasm when asked about Fantasy Sports, and you can look forward to that audio later this week.
Nowhere was the excitement that Lin has generated more apparent in the press areas, though. The media is trained every day to be cold and objective, and there is always the old school rule of “no cheering in the press box.” Yet media types around me nearly broke the rule more than once on Friday night.
Next to me, after Lin drilled the second of back-to-back three-pointers and the MSG crowd exploded, the guy next to me started getting out of his seat and then quickly corrected himself and sat back down. “I almost lost it there,” he sheepishly admitted.
On the other side of me, after Lin drove the lane for a picturesque layup, one guy actually put his hand on my shoulder, then realized he didn’t know me. Then he turned to someone else and began gushing about Lin. In the press room after the game, reporters could not hide their glee. Some looked for anyone to talk to about Lin. Suddenly, I was making new acquaintances because of Jeremy Lin. “Man, that guy is for real,” said a media stranger with a smile.
Audio courtesy of the RotoExperts in the morning on Sirius/XM Fantasy Sports Radio. SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio is the exclusive 24/7 channel dedicated to Fantasy Sports airing nationwide on channel 87 on XM and channel 210 on Sirius Premier (formerly known as “The Best of XM”). SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio is also available to listeners on SiriusXM Internet Radio and through theSiriusXM Internet Radio App for smartphones and mobile devices. For more information, visit www.siriusxm.com/fantasysportsradio.
Scott Engel joined RotoExperts.com in 2008 after four years at ESPN.com, where he was an Associate Editor and Fantasy Writer. He began his career as a Fantasy professional in 1996 at CBS Sportsline, where he served as Managing Editor of Fantasy Sports and Senior Writer during his tenure. In 2006, Scott was named Fantasy Football Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in his first year of eligibility. Since joining RotoExperts, Scott's work has also appeared regularly on NFL.com and Yahoo Sports. Scott hosts the RotoExperts morning drive program on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio. In 2011, Scott was inducted into the Fantasy Sports Writers Association's Hall of Fame as a member of the inaugural class. You may email Scott @ firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @scotteRotoEx