I won't lie. The main reason I went to the Garden Wednesday night wasn't to check out my beloved Knicks, or welcome back one of my all-time faves, David Lee. It was to see the Warriors' Jeremy Lin in action.
And I wasn’t alone. At the 9:26 mark in the second quarter, Lin checked into the game to loud applause, presumably from the many Asian-Americans in attendance.
And in the second half, I know I wasn’t the only one who would have been just fine if the Knicks, down 17 with 3:15 left in the third, mailed it in to ensure some garbage-time minutes for Lin.
But, alas, the Knicks made it a game, only to lose anyway, and Lin rode the pine the rest of the night.
Still, it was a night to remember.
Asked about the ovation he received from the crowd, he responded as humbly as one possibly could:
“Thank you. That’s all I have to say, ‘Thank you to everyone who’s cheering for me.’”
Let’s get this straight: This isn’t like watching Yao or Yi -- two giants who were imported from China. Asian-Americans can more easily relate to the path Lin had to take to get to the NBA. When watching him on the layup lines, I couldn’t help but get the feeling that I knew him, that I must’ve played ball with him before … or that, wait a minute … he was me -- the first Asian-American to make the NBA (with all apologies to Wat Misaka)!
This was a whole new basketball experience. One that I can only hope is here to stay.
In the meantime, Lin is taking every opportunity to keep learning the NBA game and figuring out how to transition from playing the 2 in college to handling the 1 in the pros -- two of his hardest adjustments so far, he says.
“There’s a lot of learning on my end to be done. Controlling tempo, which play calls to make, when to attack ...
“It’s just the very beginning and I understand that.”
Still, despite playing only three minutes on this night, his impact on the game was deeper than he might realize: He has captured the imagination of many Asian-American fans around the country. Including mine.
And all I have to say to that is: Thank you, Jeremy Lin.