President Obama catches Jeremy Lin fever after watching ‘Lin-sanity’ highlights

February 15, 2012

It’s official: Jeremy Lin has won over America’s First Fan.


View Photo Gallery: Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin, an undrafted second-year player from Harvard, has taken the league by storm, scoring 28 points in his first start on Feb. 6 and leading New York to three straight wins — including Wednesday’s 107-93 win over the Washington Wizards.

President Obama has watched the New York Knicks’ guard play and marveled at the highlights of Lin’s game-winning heroics in a last-second victory over Toronto on Tuesday night, White House press secretary Jay Carney said.

Asked about Lin, Carney told reporters traveling aboard Air Force One with Obama to an appearance in Milwaukee that Obama had talked about Lin with Carney and Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer aboard the president’s Marine One helicopter to Andrews Air Force Base on Wednesday morning.

“If anybody caught the highlights from last night, they were pretty breathtaking. It’s just a great story and the president was saying as much this morning,” Carney said. “It’s a great story and yes, he’s very impressed and fully up to speed. I know he’s watched Lin play already and he had seen the highlights from last night’s game.”

Obama is a longtime basketball fan who regularly plays pickup games and wore No. 23 while playing as a teen, which he likes to note as perhaps the Chicago Bulls’ biggest fan.

Obama also coaches daughter Sasha’s youth league team on weekends. The basketballer-in-chief regularly watches games and, according to Carney, makes a habit of tuning out of other events, such as Republican presidential debates, to tune into sports on the television. (Pfeiffer, the communications director, is also an avid recreation league player.)

Carney said Obama marveled at the deeper meaning of Lin, the first player of Taiwanese descent to play in the NBA. Lin, who attended Harvard University and was not drafted by any professional team, has averaged over 20 points a game while leading his team to six consecutive victories. He has inspired Asian Americans across the country, who have identified with his upbringing in California.

“It’s obviously terrific for the New York Knicks, but it’s the kind of sports story that transcends sport itself,” Carney said. “It’s the kind of story that involves people who don’t normally pay attention. I got my wife to watch the highlights this morning. She was pretty amazed and she doesn’t watch basketball.”

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David Nakamura covers the White House. He has previously covered sports, education and city government and reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan.
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