It’s hard to craft a sports fairy tale as unlikely or more compelling than Jeremy Lin’s last few days. During that time the…well you know the story by now, right?
It’s been heartwarming in many ways, not the least of which is the ironic element that the Knicks are so in need of this. After years of mismanagement, oafish ownership and a rebuilding campaign that seemed nipped in the bud, Lin has provided the Knicks faithful with an unabashed reason to be cheerful.
I think all the comparisons of Lin to Denver Broncos quarterbak Tim Tebow are just slightly misguided. The pious NFL quarterback to whom Lin deserves comparison is Kurt Warner. Warner like Lin was undrafted. Then when signed to an NFL team, Warner found himself on a squad with an all star QB (the 1994 Green Bay Packers and Brett Favre). Lin found his way to two teams that were well quarterbacked by all star caliber point guards, Steph Curry of Golden State and Kyle Lowry of Houston. Warner was signed to the Rams, a long struggling franchise with a great offensive coordinator and got his chance when Trent Green was injured. Lin signed to the Knicks whose coach is a great offensive tactician and he got his chance when injuries depleted the Knicks roster.
And yes, straight out of the gate as a starter Warner began playing at a Hall of Fame caliber; Lin’s PER so far this season is an utterly insane 28.79, 2.87 less than LeBron James and 2.43 *better* than Kevin Durant. In other words Lin is playing like an MVP.
Of course, Lin has had only four games of major minutes, but it’s also worth noting that whereas Warner got his start on an offense that featured Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, Torrie Holt and Az Zahir Hakim, Lin has had few comparable weapons in his Knick arsenal. When Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire return, Lin and his team may get even better. It’s an optimistic perspective, but it’s hard not to be starry-eyed while witnessing this saga.