Jeremy Lin, 23-year-old Knicks starting point guard who spawned a phenomenon and led his team to a .500 percentage, will face his toughest test Thursday night when he plays against the Miami Heat.
Lebron James, Heat forward who is one of the most coveted basketball players in the league, admitted that the game will be a huge one for both teams who have had a rivalry since facing one another in four consecutive post season series from 1997-2000. The teams have also developed tension after former Knicks' head coach Pat Riley became the team president of the Heat.
However, James told the media that the rivalry mixed with the Lin phenomenon will make for a great game.
"Everyone knows the history between the Knicks and Heat, then you bring in the Jeremy Lin Linsation, you bring in the Miami Heat, Carmelo Anthony and those guys and Amare Stoudemire, Spike Lee, Pat Riley and all that and it's a huge game," James said.
However, after besting teams like the New Jersey Nets in their first meeting against the Chinese-American point guard, Washington Wizards and Utah Jazz, some questioned the hype surrounding Lin who became a starter on the Knicks after being undrafted out of Harvard University, being waived by two teams and playing in the NBA D-League.
Still, Lin managed to bring the team that had a losing record to win nine of 11 games that he played in. Before he led their offense, the Knicks lost 11 of 13 games.
Yet, some have questioned whether Lin can survive against tougher teams like the Heat who have the best record in the Eastern Conference. Chris Bosh, the Heat's starting power forward, said he is not worried about facing the "Linsanity" craze that has taken over the NBA recently.
"I don't really have an opinion of the insanity thing but for him don't pay too much attention to it," Bosh said in an ESPN report. "The same people that will praise you and scream your name will hurt you next week."
Mike D'antoni, the Knicks head coach, seemed unsure about the Knicks' opportunity to hurt the Heat with Lin leading their offense against the team for the first time on Thursday night.
"You know they're going to try to jump all over you and double-team you almost at every place and be quick as heck," D'Antoni said in an ESPN report. "I'm curious to see how Jeremy will adjust to it."
However, Lin said his biggest issue will be trusting in himself despite facing his toughest defensive challenge thus far.
"Obviously, LeBron is a great player and a great, great defender," Lin told the press after a 99-82 Knicks victory over the Atlanta Hawks. "So I've just got to be aggressive and not change anything on my end."