Two weeks ago, this debate would have been a moot point. The New York Rangers were quite arguably the best team in the NHL and seemed destined for their best season in years. Meanwhile, the Knicks were wallowing in mediocrity with an 8-15 record and were about to lose stars Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony to personal issues and injury, respectively.
It had been a largely disappointing season to date for the Knicks, one characterized by poor defense and impotent offense. There was too little chemistry and too much frustration.
Flash forward to today and the Rangers are still one of the best teams in the NHL. But the emergence of Jeremy Lin has vaulted the Knicks into the national spotlight, all while leaving the Rangers in the dust.
On Feb. 4, the legend was born: Lin came off the bench to record 25 points and seven assists in a winning effort against the New Jersey Nets.
From that game on, Lin's legacy has only grown. He scored more points in his first four starts than any other player since the NBA/ABA merger in 1977, out-dueled Kobe Bryant, hit a game-winning shot to sink the Toronto Raptors and beat the defending champion Dallas Mavericks.
Lin's story is as captivating as it is improbable. It is a true underdog story about a humble, hard-working individual who made the most of the opportunities presented to him. Lin has been calm and cool both on and off the court, winning scores of fans in the process.
Quite simply, no athlete or team has received more attention in the past few weeks than Lin and the Knicks.
Even Osi Umenyiora of the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants admits that the Knicks have become the toast of the town. In an interview with ESPN, Umenyiora stated, "There's nothing like when the Knicks are winning … It's a really a special time."
If Lin can supersede the Super Bowl Champions in popularity, then it is hard to imagine him being beat out by a hockey team.
To put it bluntly, basketball is simply more relevant and popular than hockey. It was born in America and we are proud of it. And despite growing competition from abroad, America still has by far the best basketball players in the world.
Combine this popularity with a feel-good underdog story, the basketball-mecca that is Madison Square Garden and the revival of one of the most storied franchises in the NBA, it's no wonder that Lin's story has taken off like it has.
Now if this debate were about which team was better, then the Rangers would most likely come out on top, having put together a consistent and dominating season thus far. But just as this debate was a moot point two weeks ago, it is likewise today. Lin has overshadowed every athlete in the sporting world and shows no sign of slowing down.