Jeremy Lin has become the biggest thing to happen to the NBA in a very long time.
NBA fans be damned, but LeBron’s undeniable talent and athleticism, and Kobe’s ability to win above all else, while exciting, is nothing if not predictable. The first Lakers three-peat was a genuinely exciting thing for basketball, with Kobe and Shaq leading a real crusade across the NBA. The Spurs dynasty was a terrible thing for the NBA, no matter how great Tim Duncan and Co. were; it lead to a great amount of disinterest by the general basketball public, a demographic I proudly belong to. The talent is there, throughout the league, but the dearth of winning teams has long damaged the league. Last year, the progression of this (the building of superteams like the Heat) led to a very exciting NBA season and playoffs, and the league was lucky enough to not let a lockout destroy its season. As much complaining as there was in November, the NBA season is still here and strong.
The regular season kicked it into another gear last week, with the arrival of Asian-American superstar Jeremy Lin, already a journeyman point guard in his second year out of Harvard. Five games have produced five wins and point totals of 23, 25, 28, 38 and 20. These are numbers that can carry a team on a nightly basis; something Lin had and still has no intention of doing. When it’s his turn to speak, the soft spoken Lin does his best to exude the excitement of playing in the NBA, and playing good basketball. He is happy to be the guy with the rock; it certainly feels like he always had these performances in him.
After a full education in academics and basketball at Harvard, Lin has spent the past year and half between the Golden State Warriors and a cup of coffee with Houston. That kind of job experience can get you to the next level. He had seen the game at the pro level, and learned to adapt to the game and the business. He appears to be a very easy going guy; getting cut when he’s had no playing time is not going to faze the guy. Coming into New York, the Knick have no point guard, and have not had a real point guard for a long time time. Lin appeared, and suddenly he’s a livewire, running the court like a madman and scoring in every way possible. He’s an instant sensation, and for good reason.
His story is conducive to the kind of praise he’s getting…Tim Tebow comes to mind, of course. A decent amount of performance and winning will get any town talking about a player. In the Garden, New Yorkers are tired of waiting for their team to ascend to greatness, and want to see results. They have seen results, and they are going bonkers. Every possible pun using the word Lin has been published in nearly every medium. Regional and national highlight shows are leading with “Linsanity”. The movement has so much steam, many Knick fans are dreading the return of Carmelo Anthony, so not to disrupt the team’s winning ways. But Knick fans, MSG and Mike D’antoni do not make Jeremy Lin as likeable as he his. You do.
You like Jeremy Lin because he’s like you. As written in this Deadspin article, Jeremy Lin was a dumb kid from a small town, too. He was goofy, he played basketball, and hung out with his friends, like a whole lot of kids in America. He is Derrick Rose, practically a pro in 10th grade. It doesnt seem that Jeremy Lin was garnering much attention, which freed him to pursue more, like a Harvard education and experience for the NBA. Whenever I watch him on the court, I see a guy that this sort of just happened to. A guy that was trying to play in the NBA, get experience, and keep working until he gets a starting job somewhere, in this country or another. Then he becomes the starting point guard for the New York Knicks. It’s just so shocking to everyone, that he cant start to explain it.
It is a major victory for the system. Another guy that wasn’t made by an AAU coach or gifts from a college means another guy who isn’t just a hard working basketball player, like so many pampered young athletes are, but a hard worker. A guy that handled more than basketball in his life. He’s another American kid, getting involved in something he never expected. Life’s great journey, I guess.
A final point: I talked about the Knicks with my dad for the first time ever two nights ago. We both watched the Lakers game and later were talking about Jeremy Lin. Basketball is rarely a topic of conversation, but, you know, it’s Jeremy Lin.