Whether or not you watched Jeremy Lin torch Kobe Bryant's Lakers last night in an electrified Madison Square Garden (and I hope you did; if not, here are the highlights), this is clear:
Over the past week (has it only been a week?), the Lin story is the single-best NBA story I can remember.
Between Lin's multi-layered backstory (to review: Asian-American, Harvard, undrafted, cast-off) and his brilliant (and endearingly jubilant) on-court performances and the fact he's doing it in New York (for a team playing without its "stars") -- all magnified because he is doing it during that first slow sports week after the Super Bowl -- this has it all, culminating last night as Lin beat back the NBA's standard-bearer for individual excellence, Kobe Bryant, on national TV.
The euphoria has lasted longer than Michael Jordan's "double-nickel" comeback game. It has been more delightfully improbable than an 8-seed toppling a 1-seed in the playoffs (or even a hard-fought Lakers-Celtics playoff series). It has been more universally accessible than a scintillating stretch by a superstar (playoffs or regular season, it doesn't matter). And it has all happened in the span of 7 days -- from afterthought to the biggest sensation in the NBA, in just a week.
This is it, folks: This is as good as the NBA gets -- as good as sports gets, frankly.
Who knows how long this ride will last -- the expectations for Lin should be that he will torch the Timberwolves tonight, then excel once Amare Stoudemire returns to the team next week. The real challenge -- the one that everyone is looking to (if not looking forward to) -- is when Carmelo returns and tries to fit in with this new Lin-centric team. (If that is indeed a question, then it begs the question how Carmelo would have fit with Chris Paul joining the Knicks.)
Yahoo's Eric Freeman -- who has been watching Lin for a while -- made an interesting observation last night on Twitter: "The weird thing about Lin is I think he's more effective as a star than as a role player. It's been that way most of his basketball life."
The "Linsanity" phenomenon has been amazing this week. Lin is, most definitely, a star -- I think it's a given he should be added to the Rookie-Soph game at All-Star Weekend in two weeks. The question is whether the current stars of the team are ready to let him remain the Knicks' biggest sensation.
Be sure to pop by Quickish's Jeremy Lin stream to catch up on all the best commentary about Linsanity.