Focus on Harvard sensation Jeremy Lin once again brought faith-talk and basketball analysis simultaneously together, this time via NBA legend Earvin Magic Johnson during ESPN/ABC's TV coverage of the New York Knicks' victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.
Johnson, who is rated the greatest NBA point guard of all time (ESPN 2007), now serves as a pro basketball commentator and analyst for the network. Although already a big fan of Lin, the Los Angeles Lakers' Hall of Famer said after the game there should be no question as to the legitimacy of the Knicks' point guard.
During a game summary wrap-up between fellow analysts, including Jon Barry, Johnson said before commercial break, "Like Jeremy Lin says, 'God is good.'"
Johnson tweeted after the game: "There shouldn't be anymore questions as to whether @Jlin7 is legit so are the Knicks."
Earlier in the week, a game-winning shot by Lin over the Toronto Raptors inspired Johnson to tweet: "Everyone should be a believer in @Jlin7 after his shot to win the game tonight."
Although Johnson does not talk about his faith often on television, his reference to God on Sunday is not a surprise to many in the Los Angeles area who have followed his career and life.
In 1991, at a press conference in Los Angeles, he announced that he had contracted HIV. His career with the Lakers came to a halt while he focused on treatment for the disease in which the medical field was still doing early research.
Johnson says today that he has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, according to the Christian publication Connection Magazine.
"I thank Him every chance I get – on my knees praying," said Johnson, as reported by Connection.
Johnson, who leads the Magic Johnson Foundation, is a member of West Angeles Church of God in Christ. He was drawn to the church by his wife, Cookie, according to Connection.
While displaying his patented Magic smile, he lavished praises on Lin during Sunday's broadcast in which Lin scored 28 points with 14 assists in the 104-97 win over the defending champion Mavs.
"What makes him for real is that he loves to compete," Johnson said. He explained to viewers that Lin plays unselfish ball and that other Knicks players, like Carmelo Anthony, who will be joining the starting rotation soon, need to adjust to the guard's game, not vice versa.
Lin's first eight starts in the NBA is remarkably comparable to the same number of first starting lineup assignments for some Hall of Fame point guards. Lin has 200 points and 76 assists in his starts, while Isiah Thomas had 184 points and 51 assists. Johnson scored 147 with 57 assists, and John Stockton had 80 points and 82 assists.
Analyst and former NBA player Jon Barry admitted that he was skeptical about Lin early on. However, things changed after the game on Sunday.
"I'm totally bought in now. The way he competes … the way he plays. The Knicks can't take him off the floor. He is big time. I'm all in on this guy, Jeremy Lin," Barry said.