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Jeremy Lin - the new underdog

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The most famous couch-sleeping underdog athlete is Rudy Ruettiger.

(Photo: Associated Press)

Who can forget Rudy throwing on his Notre Dame helmet, anxiously lining up in formation, and then sacking Georgia Tech quarterback Rudy Allen? It's inspirational; it's true; but it was also college. That kind of story could never happen in the NBA, right?

Wrong.

Meet Jeremy Lin. Madison Square Garden certainly did. In traditional New York fashion, the crowd voiced its approval by chanting the point guard's name in his breakout game against the New Jersey Nets this past Saturday.

He played 35 minutes, scored 25 points, and dished out seven assists in the Knicks 99-92 win. Those are beyond impressive numbers for a guy who had only played more than seven minutes in a game once in his career.

He followed that stellar showing by racking up 28 points in his first career start against the Utah Jazz. Talk about luck, and I'm not referring to Lin's performance.

The Knicks are in need of a solid point guard about as much as the Redskins need a franchise quarterback.

The answer to a 10-15 team's prayers, at least temporarily, is an undrafted former Ivy Leaguer (Harvard, to be exact) who was cut from two teams over the past two seasons. Obviously, who would have guessed otherwise?

During the Knicks shootaround on Wednesday, despite there being no Carmelo Anthony or Amare Stoudemire in sight, there was no shortage of cameras. Lin walked off the court and literally blinked his eyes repeatedly, as if blinded by the light. It was so noticeable, I asked him if he was getting used to it. He said, "I'm trying."

An onslaught of media attention would be difficult for anyone, let alone a person coming from relative obscurity. As the New York Times first reported, Lin has been living on his brother's couch in Manhattan because up until a day ago, his contract, which pays him about $800,000 this season, wasn't guaranteed.

The Knicks waited until the last possible day before officially inking the deal. What's more amazing than Lin's serendipitous call to action, though, is how quickly his stardom is growing.

Combine the Internet and the "hard work can achieve anything" American mantra and you have an instant overnight sensation. One fan was so impressed by Lin, he even wrote a rap song that has since gone viral.

However, not all of his numbers are impressive. Lin turned the ball over eight times against Utah, most of which came in the 4th quarter. The transition from bench player to role player is physically demanding for any player in normal circumstances, let alone during a truncated season with little opportunity for rest.

It remains to be seen whether the only Ivy Leaguer in the NBA, and the first American born player of Chinese and Tawianese descent in league history, can continue to break barriers. But, judging by how far Lin's already come, I'm betting the Big Apple has found its next big star.

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