O'Neal: Lin 'has been tremendous'

O'Neal: Lin 'has been tremendous'
February 16, 2012, 2:45 am
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BOSTON No NBA locker room is safe from the Linsanity that is Jeremy Lin, the Harvard educated basketball player that has taken the New York Knicks -- and the entire NBA with it -- by storm.

Not even the Boston Celtics, a team that seldom opines about other players on other teams, can help but acknowledge the instant impact he has made since the Knicks made him a starter.

Lin's story of being waived by multiple teams and on the cusp of being cut by the Knicks is well-documented.

Boston center Jermaine O'Neal never had that kind of adversity to overcome.

But like Lin, he too had to wait for his opportunity to play before eventually flourishing in the NBA.

"Me personally, I know where he's coming from," said O'Neal, a six-time all-star. "I kind of did the same thing in Portland, sat for four years and got an opportunity. As players, we understand when an opportunity comes, it's up to you to take full advantage of it."

And Lin has done just that.

In the last six games -- all wins for the Knicks -- Lin has averaged 26.8 points, 8.5 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game. The downside of his game, however, is in the fact that during the same span, he's averaging 5.2 turnovers per game.

"He's found a system that fits his skill level," O'Neal said. "Obviously he has a tremendous amount of skill level. Hopefully he can continue at the high pace that he's doing."

Chris Wilcox has also been impressed with Lin's play.

"Hopefully he can do it for the rest of the season," Wilcox said. "Big ups to him."

While most of the world was caught totally off-guard by Lin's play, NBA players are immune to guys coming out of nowhere to play well for a initial period of time.

"As players, we're not surprised," O'Neal said. "We understand more than anybody, if you get to a system and the coach doesn't think you fit the style of play they have, then you won't play. Then you get to a system where the coach feels like you can fit and throws you out there to play, then your skill level can really show. He's been tremendous."

But the Lin-lovefest can only go so far.

"We don't become fans," O'Neal said.

And with each win bringing the Knicks closer to Boston in the Atlantic Division standings, the C's are keeping all the hoopla surrounding Lin in perspective.

"We got other things to worry about here," Wilcox said.

"Hopefully it stops, the winning, from the perspective of a Celtic," said O'Neal. "But I wish him the best of luck, because I know how hard it is to do well in this league and be consistent at it."