(Photo: REUTERS/Adam Hunger)
New York Knicks point guard phenom Jeremy Lin has been a longshot before. However, can he beat the odds against him once again and make the U.S. national basketball team to play in the London Olympics this summer?
While Lin's play during the last three weeks in the NBA has hoops experts like Magic Johnson saying the 23-year-old out of Harvard is "for real," the nods of approval may not be enough for him to bump someone off the Olympic team selected in January.
Still, Jerry Colangelo, who is the current director of USA Basketball, said he is monitoring Lin's progress and has not ruled out the possibility of making him a late addition, according to The New York Times.
While the point guard position on the roster of 12 is considered already laden with great talent, Lin could be invited to train at the U.S. team's facility and scrimmage against the Olympic squad. Lin is a candidate for that assignment, said Colangelo as reported by the Times.
Eight 2008 Olympic gold medalists, 10 members of the 2010 USA World Championship gold medal winning team, one national team player and one newcomer to the USA Basketball National Team were among the 20 finalists named to the 2012 U.S. Olympic men's basketball on Jan. 16. The official 12-man U.S. Olympic team roster will be announced later this year, say U.S. Olympic team officials.
The depth chart for the point guard position is so deep that when NBA veteran and L.A. Clippers player Chauncey Billups was removed as a possible U.S. team member because of a recent injury, officials did not seek a replacement.
There is the possibility, as some U.S. players have done in the past, for Lin to play for a different country during the Olympics. However, there has been no word from Lin yet on his plans.
As the NBA heads into the All-Star break this weekend, Lin can be excused for not thinking too far ahead about his career, especially with his assignment tonight as the Knicks face the Lebron James and Dwayne Wade led Miami Heat.
The nationally televised game has already been full of all the hype that goes along with a King James vs. Linsanity matchup. Lin, a devout Christian that doesn't shy away from talking about his faith, goes into the game versus the Heat humbly, giving words of admiration for James.
"Obviously, LeBron is a great player and a great, great defender. So I've just got to be aggressive and not change anything on my end," said Lin after the Knicks victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday.
ESPN is reporting that James said he will defend Lin at times when the Knicks (17-17) face the Heat (26-7).
"I know I'm going to end up guarding Lin at some point," James said.
Lin scored 17 points and tallied nine assists in the 99-82 win over the Hawks on Wednesday. He is averaging 23.9 points and 9.2 assists in the last 11 games.