Understanding Linsanity: 'He Makes Us All a Little More Free to Dream'

Why are fans so taken with the Knicks' new superstar point guard?

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Every week, our panel of sports fans discusses a topic of the moment. For today's conversation, Jake Simpson (writer, The Atlantic), Patrick Hruby (writer, ESPN and The Atlantic), and Hampton Stevens (writer, ESPN and The Atlantic) talk about the forces behind Jeremy Lin mania.


Hey, guys,

What do you get when you cross New York basketball, Harvard, Asian-American culture, the Internet, and a point guard who's overcome more obstacles than Rudy and made a more improbable run than Tim Tebow? You get a little LIN-sane in the membrane.

I'm speaking, of course, of Jeremy Lin, the Knicks' guard who has become national news after a six-game stretch that defies rational thought. Six games of 35-plus minutes, six wins, five starts, a 38-point masterpiece against the Lakers, a game-winning free throw against the Timberwolves, and a game-winning three-pointer with half a second left on Tuesday against the Raptors. Not to mention a cultural tidal wave that has gripped New York—to the point where the guy at my local deli can talk about nothing else.

What fascinates me most about Lin is that there are so many explanations for the Linsanity sweeping the nation. First Harvard grad to play in the NBA since 1954. Only Asian-American currently in the league. Point guard for a Knicks franchise that hasn't won it all since 1973 and a fan base desperate for something to get excited about. But to me, it seems like the real impetus for Linsanity is that the kid is the American Dream personified. Undrafted and cut by two different teams in the last two months, Lin has persevered, and when he was finally a shot he made the most of it and then some. That, not his race or alma mater, is what fans are relating to.

You agree, Patrick/Hampton? Or do you spy another cause of Linsanity?

–Jake

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Patrick Hruby, Jake Simpson, and Hampton Stevens 

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