On January 20th, 2012, while on assignment by the New York Knicks, Jeremy Lin tallied a triple-double in an Erie BayHawks' victory.
Such an outing not only sparked the eventual start of something really special for Lin professionally, but also changed the national sports scene forever.
The impressive feat was enough for the Knicks to call upon Lin rather quickly in a last ditch effort to find the right person to solve their existing point guard woes. From there, "Linsanity" began. Never before had an athlete on the national sports stage been propelled to such greatness in such a short amount of time.
Lin's success (even fast-forwarding to now, as he stands tall as starting point guard of the Houston Rockets after capitalizing on his Big Apple stardom for a lucrative contract) helped him emerge as the unofficial poster child for the NBA D-League.
Never once had a minor league alumni experienced the same level of immediate (and/or eventual, for that matter) stardom that Lin garnered. For many NBADL players, simply breaking into The Association is a huge accomplishment in itself. Emerging as a starring attraction is almost always considered out of the question.
But since Lin left New York and level of play has become more mediocre as a member of the Rockets, his most recent success is measured on an even playing-field as most NBADL turned NBA role players.
With the point guard no longer the obvious choice, is there a new considered poster child for whom's success NBADL athletes should strive to achieve in similar fashion?
Lin may still be a candidate of sorts for providing such credibility to the league, but perhaps there's a more ideal choice these days.
For some NBA fans, the Spurs' Danny Green may have burst out onto the scene within the last year or two out of nowhere. But the fact is, before he was a sharpshooting starter for the best team in the Western Conference, the guard started from the bottom. (Now he's here).
Green played for three NBADL teams between 2009-11, and even played alongside Lin and Steve Novak on the Reno Bighorns. In the Bighorns' arena, there's a life-size cardboard cut out of Lin in a D-League uniform. One of Green himself stands tall right next to it as fans enter the building.
On the Spurs, Green has emerged as exactly the type of player the minor league strives to produce. The perfect complementary player, Green's top-notch shooting prowess spreads the floor for San Antonio and opens things up for stars and potential future Hall of Famers in Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili.
Prior to pouring in 16 points in game one of the Western Conference Finals on Sunday (further helping the Spurs to a series opening victory), Green has averaged 10 points (on 44% from the field and 42% from downtown), 4.1 rebounds, and 1.2 steals in the postseason.
While he's undeniably a capable defender, Green is a player with a perfect niche necessary for a team to be successful. He's developed a skill-set that helps arguably the NBA's best team on a nightly basis. Would his other Spurs' teammates be just as successful without his contributions?
Perhaps not. And that's exactly why Green's been able to slowly but surely emerge as the new unofficial poster child for the D-League. He's a winner, and continues to prove he's not one to back down from the big moments. He's as clutch as they come, and holds his own amongst three of the better talents the league has ever seen.
Above all else, Green is quite the minor league success story. He's come a long way from being part of a minor league swap that involved himself and Patrick Ewing Jr. The NBA D-League should be proud to have him headlining the bevy of players who their current players look towards in hopes of duplicating the same success.