Sports

Killer Linstinct: The onslaught of Linsanity

By
Sports Columnist
Friday, February 17, 2012

 

As a sports columnist, I try to write stories about people or events in the sports world that have slipped under the radar. I set out this week to write about Brandon Roy, what he meant to the Trail Blazers, and how his genuinely sad retirement didn’t get the attention it deserved because we were in the middle of one of the craziest free-agent periods of all time. Thanks, lockout.

But there’s really only one story in the sports world right now.

Randy Moss is coming out of retirement! Just kidding. I mean, he is, but that’s not the big story.

Jeremy Lin. The Linsane asylum. The man keeping the Knicks Lintact. The player performing Linception on me. The dude who Lincludes everyone in the offense. The guy who gave Jose Calderon Spanish Linfluenza. The point guard making Carmelo Anthony feel a little Linferior.

Most people who even remotely pay attention to sports feel pretty Linformed about the sensation, but the fact is that he is one of the most polarizing figures in sports right now. He’s become the Tim Tebow of basketball. He’s probably even bigger than that. He’s Linstigated a large debate about his skills as a basketball player and whether or not he can keep this pace up.

Jeremy Linhabits a special place in my heart that I never thought any Knick would find. New York basketball fans are a bit Linfamous for overly hyping their players and making a big deal about guys who are ultimately average. This is not one of those Linstances.

You can’t say enough about how Linteresting he is. First of all, Lin is tearing down walls as one of the most impactful stars of Asian heritage since Yao Ming. Lin fact, famous boxer Floyd Mayweather is in hot water after tweeting that Lin “is a good player but all the hype is because he’s Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don’t get the same praise.” We are a country that has a truly awful history when it comes to issues of race, and it’s a hot-button topic, to say the least. Which is maybe why it’s so amazing that Lin’s race isn’t even the most Lintensely scrutinized aspect of everyone’s favorite player.

He’s a Harvard graduate who went undrafted and spent time in the D-League. It’s a pretty Linspiring story. The NBA is unique because the rosters are so small, and with only 450 spots in the whole league, even draftees aren’t Linsured a spot. In fact, pretty much the only way to get Linserted into an NBA roster out of the D-League is for your team to be ravaged by Linjuries — okay, that’s enough Lin wordplay. Luckily for us, that’s exactly what happened with this Knicks team and now we are being treated to the best sports story in several years.

Naysayers are going to point out that Lin is going to come crashing back to Earth, and to a certain extent, yes, it is likely that he will regress from his current blistering pace. Jeremy has some trouble going to his left and his high turnover ratio is troubling. But rest assured — this guy is the real deal. A guy who could certainly be — and maybe already is — an NBA star and, at the very worst, will end up a solid sixth man for many years to come. With the skills, basketball IQ, unflappability and gritty determination he’s shown thus far, that’s the absolute worst I see him doing. 

Now, time for the elephant in the room about Lin’s meteoric rise.

This seven-game winning streak that the Knicks are currently on happened with alpha dog Carmelo on the bench. They were also without Amar’e Stoudemire for much of this win-streak. Those two players command nearly a third of the team’s salary each. If the two return to the court with Lin, and things go poorly, some conclusions are going to be drawn about the future of this club and whether the stars are needed. In each game where Lin has played more than 30 minutes, he’s scored at least 20 points and tallied seven assists. In Wednesday’s win over the Kings, he averaged an assist every two minutes. Is it really that crazy to say that Carmelo has to figure out how to play with Lin more than Lin needs to include Carmelo?

Yeah, probably. We are still dealing with a seven-game sample here, but you can at least make that argument now. It’s just mind-boggling. Knicks fans love Carmelo. The proof exists in the fact that he was voted into the All-Star game as a starter this year despite currently shooting under .400 from the floor and .300 from downtown. It’s tough to make the case that he would still be in the All-Star Game if he wasn’t beloved by one of the most caring and fanatical fanbases in the NBA. Apologies to Kyrie Irving and Brandon Jennings that you both play point guard. Also, sorry to Pau Gasol and Rudy Gay for playing in the West. Seeing Roy Hibbert make the East squad must have been tough for you.

The fact that the spotlight has been yanked from New York’s go-to guy this quickly is not only improbable, but I didn’t think it was possible. Linsanity is about to get a healthy dose of Carmelo added to it, and it’s not Jeremy who should be worried about it.

Am I just a jealous Celtics fan who loves Lin and is trying to ignore his own train wreck of team? Most definitely. I also think I’m right though. The facts are that the Knicks have a winning percentage of under .500 with Carmelo Anthony on the court but haven’t lost when Jeremy Lin starts. You gotta play nice with Jeremy, Melo. If you do, the Knicks become a tough team to out in the playoffs.

If you don’t, you make the fans pick between you and Lin. And you don’t want that. 

 

Sam Sheehan ’12 would like to point out that when Tucker Halpern ’13, Matt Sullivan ’13 and Andrew McCarthy ’13 saw defensive minutes against Jeremy Lin in the Pitz, he was 1-6 with five points. Talks sports with him at sam_sheehan@brown.edu or follow him on Twitter @SamSheehan.

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