Friday , Feb , 17 , 2012 Paul Eide

Jeremy Lin Is Victor Cruz

The rise of Jeremy Lin over the last two weeks is amazing and largely unprecedented in NBA history. But in NFL history, and even in the same city this year it isn’t unprecedented; the rise of Giants Pro Bowl wide receiver Victor Cruz this season has many similarities.

Cruz went undrafted in the 2010 NFL Draft after graduating from UMass. On a Monday Night Football game a few months later, Cruz had a monster game against the Jets with 6 catches for 145 yards and three TD. Cruz finished the preseason leading the NFL with 297 receiving yards and four TD, and finished second in receptions with 15. He made the roster but after three games a hamstring injury forced the Giants to put him on IR for the rest of the season.

Heading in to 2011 Cruz was only listed as the team’s fourth wide receiver and he would’ve been fifth string if Steve Smith didn’t leave for the Eagles. The only reason he even played when he did was due to injuries to Mario Manningham and Domenik Hixon which forced him into action because the Giants needed a healthy body. From there the rest is history and Cruz blew up, setting a single season Giants record for receiving yards (1,536) and tied an NFL record by scoring a 99 yard TD, all while starting just seven games.

Lin’s rise to prominence and success is extremely similar. Like Cruz, Lin went unselected in the NBA draft after graduating from Harvard. Lin was eventually signed by the Dallas Mavericks to play for the team’s summer league squad. Lin’s best performance was against #1 overall pick John Wall. Lin scored 13 points on six of 12 shooting, while holding Wall to just 4 of 19 shooting and effectively serving notice to the NBA that he was for real. After the performance Lin was offered contracts by at least four NBA teams, eventually settling on the Golden State Warriors. After minimal playing time he was sent to the D-League and performed well. But once new Warriors coach Mark Jackson took over, he was cut on the first day of training camp.

As we all know now, the Knicks claimed Lin but he was essentially seen as the 12th man, or at best, the third string PG. A month ago today Lin had a triple double for the Knicks D-League team. 11 days later Baron Davis hurt his back again and Lin was thrust into the starting lineup because, as Mike D’Antoni put it, “He got lucky because we were playing so bad.” From there “Lin-sanity” has taken over and the Knicks fortunes have been completely reversed. Lin was named the Eastern Conference Player of the week last week after averaging 27.3 ppg, 8.3 apg and 2 spg.

We saw how the Cinderella script ended for the Giants and Cruz, with a win in the Super Bowl. What are the odds that the rise of Lin propels the Knicks to hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy later this summer?

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaysantiago

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