When Carmelo Anthony limped off the court during a Feb. 6 game against Utah, he left the floor as the New York Knicks biggest star. When Anthony returned to the lineup on Sunday against the New Jersey Nets, he found himself playing second fiddle to sudden sensation Jeremy Lin. But the Nets — who Lin torched for 25 points on Feb. 4 to jumpstart a seven-game winning streak — ruined Anthony’s return with a 100-92 victory that saw Lin foul out. As Cindy Boren wrote:
Jeremy Lin and Carmelo Anthony were playing together for the first time since an outbreak of Linsanity engulfed the New York Knicks and pro basketball and the results were decidedly mixed — because Deron Williams and the New Jersey Nets were men on a mission.
The Nets got revenge with a 100-92 win, atoning for the whole Linsanity thing that began when Lin led the Knicks past Williams and the Nets on Feb. 4. (“We took it personal a little bit,” Williams said.) The Knicks were hoping to discover that Anthony and Lin could play seamlessly from the outset.
Williams, with 38 points (and eight three-pointers), got the best of Lin, who had 21 points (7 of 18 field goals) and nine assists — and fouled out. Anthony, who’d been out since Feb. 6 with a groin injury, had 11 points and made only 4 of 11 shots from the field, with six turnovers. (New York Post headline: “Marsh-Melo.”)
“Like I said, I had this one circled,” Williams said (via CBS’ Ken Berger). “I don’t really watch ‘SportsCenter.’ I don’t really watch too many games. But I do see Twitter. People tweet me and every three lines was, ‘Jeremy Lin destroys Deron Williams.’ So I definitely took offense to that. I had it circled.”
And Lin and Melo? Coach Mike D’Antoni hopes to run some, um, spirited practices during the upcoming All-Star break in order “to figure out the type of team, the identity we have to have.” Added to the mix areJ.R. Smith, signed last week, and Baron Davis, who played in his first game with New York on Monday night.
Anthony says he knows the plan — the team was, after all, 6-1 when he was out and Lin had a starring role. “I want Jeremy to have the ball. Hands down,” Anthony said. “I want him to create for me. I want him to create for Amar’e [Stoudamire]. I want him to create for everybody and still be as aggressive as he's been over the past two weeks. I want that.”
Lin said he’s not concerned about chemistry or Carmelo.
“We are not in panic mode because it is not like people show up and you have great chemistry. We both can make plays,’’ Lin said. “We need to find a good balance. It’s a little tough with no practice time — it is Day 1.”
While the Knicks have now lost two of three, “Linsanity” doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. NBA fans around the world can’t get enough of the unlikely superstar, from watching Knicks games on television to wearing his jersey — which has finally become a possibility. As Bloomberg News reported:
Adidas AG, the exclusive maker of National Basketball Association uniforms, will have jerseys modeled on those worn by New York Knick guard Jeremy Lin ready for sale in China in “the next couple of days.”
“We are quite happy that we are the partner of the NBA for several years now,” Chief Executive Officer Herbert Hainer said. said in an interview today in Shanghai. “This is what we all like in sports -- young people coming up and playing fantastic.” Hainer declined to comment on whether Adidas will try and sign Lin to a sponsorship agreement.
Lin rose from bench-warmer to stardom this month, leading the Knicks to their eighth win in nine games yesterday and igniting a fan frenzy dubbed “Linsanity.” That’s made the Harvard graduate’s number 17 jersey the best-selling on the NBA’s online store.
“Jeremy Lin would be attractive to consumer brands aimed at younger clients” including those selling sports apparel and beverages, said Chris Reitermann, Asia Pacific president for Ogilvy & Mather Advertising. Lin could make from $1 million to $10 million per sponsorship, Reitermann said by telephone. The $10 million level would be “difficult,” he said.
NBA players that currently have sponsorship agreements with Adidas include Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard and Josh Smith.
Lin’s popularity surged after he entered a Feb. 4 game against the New Jersey Nets and helped the Knicks to a win by scoring 25 points off the bench. He started the next eight games, including scoring 38 points in a victory over the Los Angeles Lakers and posting 14 assists yesterday in a win over the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks.
“Will he become a superstar? We don’t know,” Hainer said. “We are absolutely happy with our portfolio,” he said of Adidas’s sponsorship agreements. “But Jeremy Lin definitely has the potential.”
Lin does not appear to be ducking the spotlight, either. On Sunday, he joined Facebook, and despite posting nothing but a profile picture, he had already gained more than 90,000 followers by late Tuesday afternoon. As Maura Judkis wrote:
The English-language comments on Facebook — or “LINBOOK!” as one of them put it — fall into five categories:
Compliments: Lin’s Facebook profile is, unsurprisingly, a lovefest for his fans. Women have taken to it, posting heart emoticons and telling Lin that he’s cute. Men are not hesitating to tell Lin that he is “The Man!”
Racism: It looks like the fired ESPN employee who posted an ethnic slur on its site isn’t the only one spewing venom towards Lin (though the athlete has said that he believes the remark was unintentional, and has accepted the sports site’s apology). Perhaps because there are too many comments to moderate, some nasty things that people have said about Lin and his race remain on the page.
Religion: Lin’s Christian fans are watching the page, and they’ve been posting their prayers for his success. “Play for God! Prayer for u!” posted one fan, while another wrote, “ God bless you ! Working with Jesus~walking everyday~walking all the way~ [sic].” They like to remind him that life is not about winning or losing, but about God. “ The Lord is our shepherd. Thanks for sharing his words through u!” wrote one fan.
Advice: Lin’s fans have Facebook-comment wisdom to offer him. Some of is it basic, like the fans who offered, “Congrats Jeremy! Stay grounded, humble and MOST IMPORTANTLY............STAY ON THE KNICKS!!!! :) [sic]” or like the conflicted Allen Iverson fan who said, ”Jeremy be smart don't be like one of my favorite ballers A.I. [sic]” Some of the advice is more specific, like this kernel of wisdom from one fan: “Jeremy, I recommend that you having ginseng to bring the physical strength !(less garbage food will do you good!) [sic]”
Puns about his name: For the rest of his life, Jeremy Lin will hearheadline-worthy puns about his name at games, on social media, or even just shouted to him when he’s recognized on the street. Surely, the repetition of such annoying puns would be enough to drive a man Linsane. Ok, sorry. But many of Lin’s Facebook followers are simply parroting back his best headlines: “Lin'ing!” “All i do is lin lin lin.” “Super Lintendo!” Wrote one fan: “I study LINguistics in college just for you!!!!!!!!”
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