Tuesday, February 14, 2012

About This Lin Fella

The great and interesting thing about Jeremy Lin is not, contrary to Darren Rovell's belief, that he is Asian. It is not that he is effusively Christian a la Tebow, it is not that he went to Harvard, it is not even that he was an Economics major and thus amuses my wife (whose background is in econometrics). It is not that he was an undrafted free agent, that he was cut twice, that he spent time in the D-League earlier this year while the Knicks struggled with All of these are wonderful angles to fill a few column inches and spark sports radio call-in debates with, but they're missing the point.
The great and interesting thing about Jeremy Lin is that he is the only remotely great and definitely interesting thing about the New York Knicks this year. The great and interesting thing about Jeremy Lin is that he plays basketball like his hair - all his hair, not just the stuff on his head - is on fire. The great and interesting thing about Jeremy Lin is that, in a league dominated by boring-ass isolation plays where one star runs around and four teammates stand and watch, he attacks the rim like he's a starving zombie and the backboard's made of brains. The great and interesting thing about Jeremy Lin is that he is actually fun to watch play basketball.
Is he great at it? His one transcendent game against the Lakers notwithstanding, no. He is certainly talented, but let's take it easy before we anoint him the second coming of Oscar Robertson. Nobody who turns the ball over as much as Lin does keeps up this kind of run for long. He's a good player who's had a good few games after he fell into the perfect situation - playing for a coach who loves to push the ball, has no other point guard alternatives, and who has his two big scorers sidelined with injuries. Of course he was going to get his shot, and to his credit, he took advantage of it. But it's only been a few games. It's been a few games without Carmelo Anthony, who's got the same relationship with the ball that Wallace and Gromit have with cheese. It's been a few games when opposing coaches haven't had game film of Lin playing against anyone except Dartmouth, and opposing players haven't decided that the way to make a name for themselves is to shut down the guy everyone's talking about. In short, he ain't seen nothing yet.
Mind you, as a casual basketball fan, I hope the Linsanity continues. I hope he adjusts and elevates his game, and that Anthony and the Knicks continue to make use of his talents. And I hope that for the simple reason that he's fun to watch. No other reason, no more complicated explanation, no ham-fisted attempt at socioeconomic analysis by guys who are trained to report on high ankle sprains are necessary.
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