The month of February could be remembered for two athletes taking their sport by storm in historic firsts that will forever change their games.
First, Jeremy Lin made his mark in the NBA as the point guard for the New York Knicks. Then, Danica Patrick went up against the boys in motorsports biggest race, the Daytona 500.
Lin’s instant rise to stardom is largely because of his cultural background. According to a story in TheNational.ae, he is the first Asian-American of Chinese or Taiwanese ancestry to play in the NBA. The pandemonium has spread all the way to China, where they haven’t been this excited for the NBA since Yao Ming’s playing days.
The 23-year-old point guard has turned the league upside down with his high level of play that has resurrected one of the storied franchises in the NBA. Since he first got significant minutes on Feb. 4 against the New Jersey Nets, he has been averaging 22.6 points, 8.7 assists and a 9-3 record.
Some have seen “Linsanity” to be very similar to Tim Tebow’s emergence as a starting quarterback in the NFL. According to the Washington Post, some sportswriters have been dubbing him the “Taiwanese Tebow” because of the two athlete’s religious beliefs.
“I’m just thankful to God for everything,” Lin said after one of his recent games. “Like the Bible says, ‘God works in all things for the good of those who love him.’”
Lin has also garnered much attention because of his Harvard education. There has been twice the number of Harvard grads to become President of the United States (eight) than NBA players (four).
Then, when the NBA was entering its All-Star Break the sports world was able to turn its attention to Patrick, as she too was making history for NASCAR.
At this weekend’s Daytona 500 that was loaded with all kinds of stories and historic firsts, Patrick’s appearance was still the talk of the weekend.
Although Patrick finished in 38th, the overall response to her entering NASCAR has been very positive from her other drivers. Only NASCAR icon Richard Petty voiced a negative opinion of Patrick when he has said “I just don’t think it’s a sport for women.”
“Who doesn’t want to see a female driver come in here and be able to race with the guys and do well and be marketable?” driver Jeff Gordon said to Sporting News last week. “It’s great for the sport.”
“We need people tuned in and watching and she brings in a lot of new fans,” added five-time Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson. “She has been able to get our sport onto a different platform, with mainstream media and things that she is involved with outside of racing. I’m excited about it.”
Both Lin and Patrick share an underdog story that people who love sports are rooting for. Both have ridden the wave to stardom and fame and both are fighting for a championship to add another chapter to their inspirational stories.