About a month ago, New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin entered a small chapel at the American Airlines Arena, home to the Miami Heat, and prayed not to be cut out of his team. On Thursday (January 23) he returns to Miami as a super star with potential to help his team beat the Miami Heat and stop its impressive winning streak so far.
MIAMI, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES (FEBRUARY 23, 2012) (REUTERS) -The Miami Heat face the New York Knicks on Thursday (January 23) in one of the most anticipated games of the NBA season as "Linsanity" returns to where it was quietly born three weeks ago.
The extraordinary pool of talent on both sides now includes the latest New York Knicks sporting phenomenon Jeremy Lin who has been a media sensation after leading a turnaround in the team's form with nine wins from eleven games since he became a regular part of the rotation.
A little over three weeks ago, the New York Knicks point guard entered a small chapel at the Miami arena and prayed to be kept on the team. The scene was witnessed by Heat power forward Udonis Haslem, who frequently visits the chapel before games but who had no idea that the prayer for Lin's future would be followed by an astonishing run of form for the Taiwanese-American, Harvard graduate who had been waived by Golden State and the Houston Rockets.
"I was in the chapel, they always how I can pray for you. I came in late and I heard the chaplain praying for Jeremy to make the squad," Haslem told Reuters Television in an interview ahead of Thursday's re-match of the two teams. It is a great story, I am happy for the success that he has having but he's on the other side and we have got to take care of our business as well," Haslem added.
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, himself a Filipino-American, praised Lin's story, but says he hopes it will eventually becomes simply one of success after adversity rather than being about the fact that the player is of an Asian-American background.
"It is a terrific story - rags to riches - and you don't see it very often and it proves that scouting in this league is not an exact science and I've said often before. We have an affinity for those type of players - guys that have the fortitude and resiliency, the faith to keep on banging on the door when it's closed," said Spoelstra.
Spoelstra who has been observing Lin's style said he was definitely the right fit for the New York Knicks who his team is facing Thursday night.
"It's a proven style of play. You get the right mix of people. You know, it's become contagious the way he plays getting off the ball and running the pick and rolls and now the ball is moving and everybody can be a threat. Certainly, their game has changed since the last time we played them," he said.
Miami Heat star LeBron James said that Lin's presence does give an added dimension to the Knicks.
"He's a good basketball player. The best thing about it as I've been quoted is, they are winning. That's what's most important so it's definitely a great story. Having a guy like that who basically was almost pushed out of the league and he's given an opportunity and he's making the most of it," said Lebron.
Lebron also said that his team is well prepared to do what necessary to continue their path of success.
"We're not in a position of having to show anybody anything. We know what we're capable of doing. As a team, we've just being going out there and taking care of business every night giving ourselves a chance to win. So we're not in a 'show me" state or 'show me' type of game. We've done enough so it's just about to try and continue to get better and trying to finish on a good note going to the All Star break," he said.
For teammate Chris Bosh, the story is a great one for the league, but won't matter when the teams step on the court.
"I'm not one for attention much. It really does not matter to me. We just have a job to do here and everybody wants to pay attention to one or two particular things that's great for them. We're going to be here doing our job no matter what happens, we're still going for a championship," said Bosh.
Heat fines agree with Bosh's assessment.
"He's a great player, but if you put Lebron or Wade on him, he's gone. He's not going to do what he's doing," said Mathew Adams, a fan purchasing his tickets for the Thursday night game.
For the international media, "Linsanity" has been good for the game.
"I think he could open the door for Japanese people, Taiwan people, Asian people. I think he is really showing the chance for small guys from Asia and that's very good," said Takeshi Shibata, a Japanese reporter in Miami for the game.