The Layers of Linsanity

Jeremy Lin Impressed on the Basketball Court but Captivated a Nation Because of so Much More

Meredith H. Keffer

In his second year in the NBA, former Harvard co-captain Jeremy Lin '10 captivated the nation.

On Feb. 4, Jeremy Shu-How Lin stepped onto the floor of Madison Square Garden. It wasn’t his first time—he had been claimed by the New York Knicks off waivers on Dec. 27, 2011 after stints on the Golden State Warriors, the Houston Rockets, and in the NBA Development League. But this time was different; this time was special.

Not only had the the Knicks lost 11 of their last 13 games, they had an injury-depleted roster and limited options at the point guard position. Lin started the game against the New Jersey Nets relatively quietly, tallying just a rebound and an assist in the first quarter. But as the second quarter started, Lin found his rhythm, dishing out three assists and scoring three baskets of his own to bring the Knicks within two points heading into halftime.

The Madison Square crowd, sensing something special, cheered on Lin as he finished with a final stat line of 25 points on 10-of-19 shooting, seven assists, five rebounds, and two steals in a 99-92 win.

Over the next 11 games with Knicks superstars Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony spending time on the bench with injuries, Lin led the Knicks on a seven-game winning streak and a 9-2 record, all while averaging 23.9 points and 9.1 assists. It was official, “Linsanity” had hit the Big Apple and captivated millions worldwide.

Almost overnight, stores were invaded and overwhelmed by fans that wanted to get their hands on any and all kinds of Lin-related paraphernalia.

The Palo Alto, Calif. native was added to the Rising Stars Challenge during NBA All-Star Weekend by popular demand and received all sorts of media attention including a selection to Time Magazine’s 100 “Most Influential People in the World.”

The internet boomed with Jeremy Lin puns and fans all around the world debated how long Linsanity could last.

And then, just as quickly and unexpectedly as Lin had become a global phenomenon, he disappeared.

On March 24, Lin reported that he had a sore knee after a game against the Detroit Pistons, and on March 31, the Knicks announced that Lin had chosen to have knee surgery for a meniscus tear and would miss the rest of the season.

“It’s just so funny how since he got hurt, how quickly people forget what he accomplished this year,” says Lin’s high school coach Peter Diepenbrock. “I’m looking forward to him basically showing everyone that it wasn’t just a two-month deal.”

Although Lin’s season is over, he has made a significant impact in New York, at Harvard, around the Ivy League, and around the world because of his multi-dimensional appeal.

“Jeremy has so many layers to him,” says Harvard men’s basketball coach Tommy Amaker. “You peel back one, and there’s another. There are so many wonderful stories about who he is.”


One of the many layers to Lin’s story is his association with Harvard, both the basketball program and the University as a whole.

Lin arrived at Harvard in the fall of 2006 as a 6’3” point guard from Palo Alto High School. While Lin’s first year at Harvard passed without event, by the time he was a sophomore, he quickly refined his game. And, by the end of his sophomore campaign, hadaveraged 12.6 points and was named to the All-Ivy Second Team.