Lin-Sanity: What's Behind the Phenom?

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The phenomenal run of the former third-string, undrafted point guard is about more than just basketball skills.


Jeremy Lin has scored 136 points in his first five games with the Knicks, more than anybody since the NBA and ABA merged in 1976.

Experts speculate that Lin is able to block out pressures to allow his skills to shine.

Some speculate that his religious beliefs help open him up to just go with his ability since, in his mind, it's dictated by a higher power.

Apart from his proven skills, Jeremy Lin, the remarkable young point guard for the New York Knicks, is benefiting from a combination of psychological factors that have conspired to help him obtain dizzying success on the court.

Since he came off the bench earlier this month, Lin has scored 136 points in his first five games with the Knicks, more than anybody since the NBA and ABA merged back in 1976. He's also helped his struggling team put together a seven-game winning streak that has the whole city talking about the Knicks in the playoffs.

Experts who study sports psychology say Lin has performed another remarkable feat -- blocking out outside pressures to allow his athletic skills to shine.

"How we think about whether we are going to succeed or fail changes whether or not our brain supports our skills," said Sian Beilock, author of the book "Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To" and a psychology professor at the University of Chicago.

"Focusing on what you want to achieve rather than why you've failed in the past prepares you to perform at your best. When you are focused on failing, often times you try to control every aspect of what you are doing. You essentially screw yourself up."

Beilock says Lin has capitalized on the low expectations that were initially set for him. Passed over by major college programs, Lin played at Harvard, where he majored in economics.

Ignored by pro scouts after graduation in 2010, Lin played in the NBA's developmental league in places like Reno, Nevada, and Erie, Penn. He played briefly for the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets, but was cut in December 2011. During this year's strike-shortened season, Lin was called up by the Knicks and was about to be cut again when his coach gave him a chance to play. Since then, he's become both a team leader and a big city superstar.

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