Jeremy Lin's story has been referred to in the media as “Lin-deralla”, a rags to riches journey that has seen him evolve from NBA castoff to NBA celebrity in an incredibly quick fashion.
The 23-year-old doesn't see his rise to sudden fame as a fairytale.
“I think it's a miracle from God is the way I would describe it,” the New York Knicks point guard said Tuesday morning, facing a mountain of television cameras set up within the Air Canada Centre.
“Obviously, I don't think anybody expected this to happen, the way it happened. Again, it's a credit to the coaching staff, the team and everyone - just our whole team right now buying into what we think is the right way to play. We're winning a few games so we want to keep that up.”
The Knicks are in Toronto to play the Raptors Tuesday night, riding a five-game winning streak thanks largely to the unexpected play of Lin, who up until five games ago was buried deep on the Knicks bench.
Lin is receiving the lion's share of the credit for the Knicks turnaround and he has become an overnight sensation both in New York and throughout the National Basketball Association.
His story is also compelling - born in the U.S. to Taiwanese parents, he went undrafted when he graduated from Harvard.
Lin was cut by a couple teams last season before catching on with the Knicks this season and then becoming an overnight sensation.
Tuesday morning, as the Knicks arrived at the ACC for their pregame shootaround, Lin was brought into a separate room to speak to an overflowing gathering of journalists who have arrived from throughout the Greater Toronto Area and the United States just to see the NBA's new phenom.
Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni could hardly believe his eyes when he entered the room to face at least 17 television cameras and perhaps more than 30 reporters who all wanted his take on a player who has only made four starts this season.
“Are we in the playoffs now?” D'Antoni remarked as he made his way to the front of the room.
D'Antoni said he's never seen anything like this for a player so early in his career.
“It's a great story,” he said. “So enjoy it and hope it will last. He's a good kid.”
Soft spoken and humble, Lin was asked if it was difficult for him to concentrate on basketball amid all the off-court distractions he is also facing.
“I try just not to pay attention to it as much as possible,” he said. “Spend a lot of time with my family and friends during my free time. And when I'm with the team, we stay focused and we know what we have to do.”
Lin said it had been frustrating to him not getting a regular opportunity to play and even now he's still got a lot to learn.
“I've been able to get away with some stuff but defences are going to start locking in so I'm going to have to improve,” he said. “It's a continual process.”
D'Antoni said for right now Lin should just try to enjoy being at the centre of the basketball universe for as long as it will last.
“This is a moment that he will cherish, obviously,” he said. “It's also a great opportunity. I don't think he'll blow it, he's too smart. And he'll do what's right to try and win.”
D'Antoni said it was difficult to say if Lin would have ever got the chance to show what he had were it not for a rash of injuries and other circumstances that left the Knicks severely short-handed.
“Probably not, I don't know,” D'Antoni said. “You have to have luck in life and you have to have an opportunity. He had an opportunity, took advantage of it. I would like to think that maybe we were smart enough to keep him around until that opportunity arose. But I wouldn't bet on it.”
He has no doubt he's an NBA player, it is still to be determined what his level will be.
“Can he play in the NBA, yeah, of course,” he said. “He's got all the tools, he's playing really well. That's not a fluke, how he's playing.”Report Typo/Error