Why the Lin-sanity?

Everybody knows the story by now: Jeremy Lin went unrecruited by all the big time basketball schools, including Stanford, even though he was from Palo Alto. He was cut by two NBA teams. And he was only given playing time by the Knicks as a last resort by the coach when other point guards were unavailable. Since then, he's led the Knicks to a 8-2 record.

The whole thing is reminiscent of one of those sports movies where the walk-on becomes the starting quarterback at a big time football school, or where the 40 year old family man breaks into the major leagues as a pitcher.

It's a classic underdog story, but that doesn't quite explain the cultural phenomenon Lin has become.

That has more to do with how Lin is the anti-Lebron.

Lebron James embodies the popular conception of what an NBA player is. Here's Lebron signing huge endorsement contracts with Nike, Sprite, McDonald's, and State Farm. There he is blowing powder up into the air and referring to himself King James. Here's Lebron ordering organizers to confiscate a CBS videotape of a college player dunking on him at the Nike Lebron James Skills Academy. There's Lebron reserving a special TV show for his announcement that he's going to leave his hometown team for greener pastures in Miami. Here he is in Las Vegas ordering Cristal champagne. And there's Lebron at a fancy nightclub in Manhattan....

Lebron has never done anything truly bad. But because of his general air of entitlement he's been ranked among the six least popular sports personalities in both 2010 and 2012.

Lin, on the other hand, is the opposite of the typical spoiled NBA player. There's Jeremy asking a chaplain to pray that he won't be cut a third time. Here's Jeremy saying that he's gotten too much credit for the recent victories and that his teammates deserve more. There he is saying that he's looking forward to Carmelo Anthony's return. Here's Jeremy blaming himself for the loss to the Hornets and saying he needs to get better. There's Jeremy out celebrating in Manhattan -- with his parents. Here he is at a team party, spending the entire night nursing one beer. And there's Jeremy saying he doesn't deserve to be included in the All Star festivities.

If the Eastern Conference finals come down to the Knicks and the Heat, it won't be hard to figure out whom the majority of Americans will be rooting for.