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Knicks' Lin reminiscent of Giants' Cruz


Are you all Lin?

NBA fans in the tri-state area sure are, while the crossover contingent of Giants-Knicks supporters are saying to each other, "We've seen this before."

Jeremy Lin, playing guard for the New York Knicks, is currently the media darling of the sports world, just as Victor Cruz became one over the past five months.

Pick whichever syllable you can work "Lin" into (you can rank them on ESPN's SportsNation; my personal favorite is Super Lintendo and you've only begun to scratch the surface,) of the Lin-sanity.

Dancing the Salsa on the steps of City Hall and onstage at the Grammys, Cruz preceded Lin with all the hype. The wide receiver wasn't the first to go through it, while the point guard likely won't be the last.

As we transition to referring to the 2011 season in the past tense, I sifted through old quotes surrounding Cruz's breakout and compared them to the expanding stockpile regarding Lin.

For context, Cruz wasn't selected in the 2010 NFL Draft out of Massachusetts, and Lin didn't hear his name at the NBA draft the same year coming out of Harvard. Cruz made his first splash with three touchdowns in a preseason game against the Jets; Lin turned heads in a Summer League game against John Wall.

Dormant for a year, Cruz then seized his opportunity in Week Three of 2011 on the road against the Eagles with two touchdowns, including a 74-yarder. Meanwhile, Lin saw his first significant action nearly two months into this season and has gone 5-0, averaging 26.8 points, 8.0 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 2.0 steals. He passed his first legitimate test against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers this past Friday night with 38 points.

It is from this game and Cruz's one in Philly that I looked back on their respective breakout performances.

Cruz (Sept. 25, 2011): "It feels like you actually have a good home and that you feel like you can do some things week in and week out against top talent. It was good to go to Philly and get a win. That meant a lot to our team and our confidence is sky high right now."

Lin (Feb. 10, 2012): "I just try to make sure that when I get there on the floor, I play as hard as I can and try to do everything I can to help the team win. The only thing we established tonight is four in a row. Now we try to go for five tomorrow. I'm not too worried about proving anything to anybody. As a team we're growing and trying to build on the momentum."

Now here's what their head coaches had to say.

Tom Coughlin: "Well, he knew that this was his opportunity. We did say it to him, we did say it to him in so many words. And he responded very, very well."

Mike D'Antoni: "What he's doing is amazing. He answered a lot of questions tonight. Can he make an outside shot? Can he pull the trigger in a big moment? He hit two 3s that just broke the game open. There's so much stuff that he's doing."

As for the opponents…

Eagles CB Nnamdi Asomugha on giving up the long touchdown to Cruz: "There's no way that (Victor Cruz) should have come away with that with two defenders on him. So, not pleased, we just need to continue to get better; besides that it's a solid game. You know, everybody for the most part was playing hard, myself as well. It was just those couple of plays that they got that kind of hurt."

Lakers' Pau Gasol: "I think that you can stop a player from not getting 38 points on you any night. I don't care how good he is, but I guess we didn't step up to the challenge as a team. (We) overlooked him  I guess. Obviously, he made big plays. Made big shots. You've got to give him credit."

While Lin's season is yet to be punctuated, Cruz's ended with a parade down the Canyon of Heroes.

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