This 23-year-old New York Knicks breakout star is making history – and making Kobe gush

By Alison Schwartz
Updated February 11, 2012 12:30 PM
Credit: Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty

Before Friday night’s big game between the L.A. Lakers and the New York Knicks, Kobe Bryant told reporters he didn’t know the Knicks hot new point guard Jeremy Lin.

But that changed sometime between the 38 points Lin scored for his teammates and their 92-85 victory over the Lakers.

So who is the man showing up Kobe on the court? breaks down five things to know about Lin, the 23-year-old breakout NBA star.

1. He’s Making History
Lin, whose parents emigrated from Taiwan to the U.S. in the ’70s, is the first American player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent in the NBA. Also notable: He’s the first Harvard alum to play in the league since Ed Smith’s 11-game season for the Knicks in 1953 to 1954, reports Sports Illustrated.

2. He Has Brains
Before he took the NBA by storm – also known as Linsanity – the California native, who grew up in Palo Alto, ruled the Ivy League. He attended Harvard University, where he played basketball without the perk of an athletic scholarship.

“My G.P.A. was not a 4.2,” Lin, who studied economics, confessed to the San Francisco Chronicle last summer. “That’s been the rumor. It’s not even possible. My friends have been absolutely killing me about that.” But he did hit the books apparently: He graduated with a 3.1, he said.

3. He Wants to Be a Pastor
Tim Tebow‘s not the only athlete who brings his love of God to the game. “I know there is a lot of temptation out there, and I have heard about the NBA lifestyle,” the non-denominational Christian told Sports Illustrated pre-fame in 2010. “I am not saying I am better than anybody else, but I am going to try to live the way I have always lived and try not to change just because I am in the NBA.” His plans after playing ball? Lin says he hopes to become a pastor and lead non-profit organizations either in the U.S. or abroad.

4. He’s in the Market – for a Home
Although Lin has yet to reveal if he’s on the market for a girlfriend, one thing is for sure: He’s looking for a place to call his own. FOX Sports reports that Lin sleeps on the couch of his brother, who is a New York University dental student living on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

5. He Has Kobe’s Approval
Now that he knows Lin is a force to be reckoned with, Bryant had nothing but kind words for the man who outplayed him on the court. “Players don’t usually come out of nowhere,” Bryant, who scored 34 points for his team, said after Friday’s game. “If you go back and take a look, his skill level was probably there from the beginning but no one ever noticed.”

He added: “It’s a great story. It’s a testament to perseverance and hard work. I am sure he has put in a great deal of work to always have that belief in himself. Now he has the opportunity to show it.”