Linsanity at MSG as Jeremy Lin Takes on Kobe - NBC New York

Linsanity at MSG as Jeremy Lin Takes on Kobe

Jeremy Lin will be at the center of the basketball universe on Friday night when Knicks take on the Lakers at MSG



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    For once, Kobe isn't the guard they're coming to see.

    For Jeremy Lin and Knicks fans, what a difference a week makes.

    Last Friday, the only buzz around Madison Square Garden was whether or not Mike D'Antoni would be coaching the Knicks when the weekend came to an end. This Friday it will be the center of the NBA as Kobe Bryant rolls into town to face the Linsanity.

    On Thursday night, Kobe played the "I don't know who that is" card when asked about Jeremy Lin after the Lakers outlasted the Celtics in an overtime period every Knicks fan should be thankful for, but it won't take long for him to get an idea what all the fuss is about.

    There's been a surging demand and a  manufacturing scramble  for Lin jerseys, everyone and their brother has weighed in on the sheer improbability of Lin's arrival on the scene and the Garden figures to greet him with a roar that rivals any we've heard in the building.

    Yes, there's a buzz to this one. Ticket prices are soaring, media hordes are descending and everyone wants to see the next chapter of the best story the league has produced all season.

    But wait, there's more! ESPN is televising the game so the matchup is going to get covered well beyond your average midseason affair featuring a team with a losing record that will take the court without their two best players.

    So Kobe will be well aware of Lin before the game tips off and that should make him even more eager to strut his stuff on the New York stage. Bryant likes playing here. See his MSG-record 61 points in 2009 and seven 30-plus games, And Kobe knows, even if he says he doesn't know, that there will be even more attention than usual when this game tips off.

    What will happen at that point? If you're doing anything other than shrugging your shoulders in response to that question, you should probably be making a beeline to the nearest purveyor of Powerball tickets. 

    The bubble might burst as the Knicks miss too often and the Lakers cruise to an easy win. Kobe could score 50 in a classic shootout or Lin could feast on Derek Fisher, a big step down from his first three opponents, en route to another game that makes you wonder if you're awake or dreaming. All are totally plausible, but plausibility isn't really the point of the Jeremy Lin experience.

    The point is to just sit back and take it all in with a goofy smile and the occasional disbelieving shake of the head. The start of Friday night's game, with the Garden buzzing like it is the NBA Finals, will be a good time for smiles and some mild debelief.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.