On Tuesday, New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin took the unprecedented hype surrounding his meteoric rise to new heights, connecting on a game-winning 3-pointer with less than a second remaining. The bucket marked the last of the Harvard-educated point guard's 27 points of the game, and also ensured that New York would win its sixth straight game with Lin manning the team's primary ball-handling duties.
Many have already written that the world should have seen Lin's rise coming. Those critics are right, though they may be underplaying just how far back premonitions of the guard's success should have come. That's because Linsanity truly began in 2006, when Jeremy Lin was still in high school.
As reported by the Sacramento Bee's Joe Davidson, Jeremy Lin was the key figure in his Palo Alto (Calif.) High squad's run to a shocking California Interscholastic Federation Division II state title in 2006, a run in which the Vikings stunned then nationally ranked Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei School, 51-47, in the state title game.
Palo Alto's 32-1 campaign in 2006 was marked by a series of notably tight contests. Ten of the team's wins came by seven points or fewer. According to Palo Alto coach Peter Deipenbrock, Lin was a catalyst in each of those wins.
The Bee dug up plenty of footage and ancillary accounts of one Palo Alto victory in particular, when the Vikings knocked off Northern California power Laguna Creek (Calif.) High. In that game, former Stanford football player Matt Traverso, who had seen Lin play at Palo Alto near the Stanford campus, tried to warn Laguna Creek about the need to vigorously trap Lin and keep him from handling the ball in the open court.
Clearly it didn't work, as Traverso reflected in speaking about the late stages of the 52-46 Palo Alto win to the Bee's Davidson.
"I was sort of a consultant for Laguna that night, sat on their bench. Told the guys to put a body on Lin, to keep him out of the lane, but Lin was amazingly quick. He was ahead of everyone else.
"Everyone was at one speed, and he was faster, better, and he could see things in slow motion, so he controlled the pace. Coach [Jim] Stephens had a wonderful game plan, but in the end, the cream rises to the top. … Lin had complete control of the ball. We tied the game with two minutes left and then … "
What happened then was precisely what has been happening in the NBA over the past two weeks: Lin takes over a game as if he was born to do so, leaving everyone on the sidelines and stands with the jaws agape, wondering why no one saw this coming.
That's not fair. Plenty of people saw this coming, they just happened to be high school basketball players, coaches and fans in Northern California, not the NBA talking heads who traditionally anoint the league's next big thing.
Ready or not, that next big thing is Lin, and his dominance has been a long six years in the making.
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