The incessant media craze surrounding Jeremy Lin has brought Linsanity to the NBA’s Slam Dunk Contest.
According to an ESPN report, Lin, the New York Knicks guard who has captivated the nation for almost two weeks now, will assist teammate Iman Shumpert at the dunk contest, set for Feb. 25. The NBA's All-Star Weekend airs Feb. 25 and 26 on TNT, and the game itself overlaps with the Academy Awards.
The other participants in the Dunk Contest are the Houston Rockets' Chase Budinger, the Minnesota Timberwolves' Derrick Williams and the Indiana Pacers' Paul George, but most eyeballs will be keyed on how Lin aids Shumpert, an explosive rookie out of Georgia Tech.
In another extension of Linsanity, the Harvard graduate will also take part in the Haier Shooting Stars competition that same night, meaning the suddenly popular Palo Alto native will work double duty.
When the year began, that would have been unthinkable since few knew who Lin was. His fans included the rare Ivy League basketball nut – guilty as charged – and the slightly less nutty NBA devotees.
Lin’s story has been told ad nauseam over the past few weeks – how no premiere sports colleges would offer him a scholarship, how no NBA team drafted him, how the Knicks just picked him up as a bench player.
And now that he has taken New York by storm, leading the Knicks to seven victories in a row, seemingly every news outlet has written about him, tweeted about him or talked about him in some fashion.
That includes Wired, the Vancouver Sun and the Daily Telegraph. Even the Brisbane Times picked up Howard Beck’s New York Times story.
His Twitter following nears 400,000 and his Facebook likes near 650,000.
And that mass hysteria is how you end up with Lin, still six starts into his career, center stage at the All-Star Game.
The NBA didn’t or couldn't squeeze him into the contests already planned out, but when given a chance to mobilize Lin’s new army of followers, how could the league or its players resist?