Is it wrong to rally around Jeremy Lin’s underdog story? Should we feel silly pulling for this undrafted free agent and D-League refugee whose berserk five-game scoring burst energized the New York Knicks?
Of course not – because it’s a great story. Even if he simply settles back into a John Starks “instant energy” role with the Knicks, that will be a heck of an accomplishment for the former Harvard star.
But the media being the media, the Lin commentary has been all over the map:
Mike Lupica, New York Daily News: Not much of a week for Jeremy Lin. All he has done, in a week and a day, is save the Knicks’ season for now, maybe save Mike D’Antoni’s job, and make Knicks fans feel genuinely happy for the first time in a long time, and that includes giving away half the team and what felt like half of Cablevision’s channels to get Carmelo Anthony a year ago.”
Ken Berger, CBSSports.com: “Fun is what the Garden has been lacking for so long, the mere scent of it being sucked out of the place this season just when it seemed that the long basketball nightmare was over. And yes, in case you hadn't noticed, fun has been missing from the NBA, too. The 149-day lockout, the perpetual angst over which stars want to be traded, who wants to play with whom, who wants a bigger market or a stage more conducive to selling stuff -- and themselves. Enough of that, please, for however long this Linsanity lasts.”
Mike Vaccaro, New York Post: “We have been trying all week to find metaphors for Jeremy Lin. Some of them have been excellent (it’s hard not to compare the feel-good Knicks story with Victor Cruz, the feel-good Giants story). Some of them have been a stretch (one helpful reader insists Lin is the basketball version of Arnel Pineda, the guy Journey saw on YouTube when they were looking for a lead singer). But in a lot of ways, these early days of Jeremy Lin are almost eerily reminiscent of the early days of (Tom) Brady, back in 2001, when he still was a fresh-faced sensation and not the global icon he has become. That part of the Jeremy Lin story is all in the future and, sure, as Bill Parcells might put it, there’s a lot of work between here and Springfield.”
Greg Couch, FoxSports.com: “Just like that, the NBA has its very own Tim Tebow. An instant phenomenon. And the funny thing is that a big part of why he has become a media superstar is that he isn’t a superstar at all. Lin represents a culture of the anti-superstar. We treat these great basketball players like heroes, and in New York, they were combined to build a championship team. Instead, they stink. So in comes Lin, a Taiwanese-American, personable, undrafted, Harvard grad/NBA point guard.”
Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports: “All these years of futility here, all these saviors marching into Madison Square Garden with the biggest names, the biggest reputations. Stephon Marbury and Isiah Thomas. Larry Brown and Carmelo Anthony. Big noise, big promises, and yet dysfunction and disillusionment rule the day. Soon, it’s onto someone else. Someone else is coming, and fresh salvation promises to be on its way. It’s the ultimate shell game with these Knicks, a reflection on a contaminated franchise culture. For the first time, it feels like the Knicks opened a window and let the freshest of air inside the building. This time, salvation had come off the waiver wire and crashes on his brother’s couch in the city. This time, salvation still gets stopped at Madison Square Garden security, suspected of being one of the team’s trainers – not its point guard.”
Sam Amick, SI.com: “As everyone from casual fans to NBA talent evaluators have analyzed the ‘Linsanity’ -- which reached a high point Friday when the undrafted second-year player from Harvard dropped 38 points in a home victory against the Lakers -- presents a natural tendency to compare him to (Steve) Nash because of the D'Antoni connection. But Lin, the first American-born NBA player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent, is showcasing a distinct style in which he looks to score more often than the pass-first Nash. The recent absences of Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire are giving Lin the necessary freedom to freelance as well.”
Buzz Bissinger, Newsweek.com: “Because Lin is not black and not from Europe with a thick foreign accent, he fits a pervasive stereotype much closer to a white player than “the great yellow hope” pablum that too many writers and bloggers are trying to pedal. It is no mistake that he is being compared with the Denver Broncos’ quarterback Tim Tebow. Both are Christian. Both hold deep religious convictions and pray after games. Both sustain the belief of fans that professional athletes who are not African-American succeed because of hard work, struggling through adversity, and basically overcoming their physical deficits with nonstop determination. It is stupid, but so is life.”
The Tebow comparison doesn’t work at all. Tebow was a major college star and a first-round draft pick. Although his long-term viability at quarterback remains a point of great debate, he came to the NFL as a celebrity.
Lin came out of relative obscurity. Although there are a few parallels – such as dramatic success in defiance of dismissive scouting reports – their stories are unique.
Can Lin keep the roll going? We’ll see.
The Timberwolves did a fine job on him defensively Sunday, causing him to miss 16 of 24 shots and turn the ball over six times in Minneapolis. But Lin still led the Knicks to a 100-98 victory with 20 points and eight assists.
CRUMMY EFFORT OF THE WEEKEND
No. 6 Baylor took a 72-57 powder at No. 4 Missouri. The larger, more athletic Bears failed to assert themselves – allow the Tigers to roll with their undersized seven-man rotation.
Alleged NBA lottery pick Perry Jones III missed 10 of his 12 shots from the field and never got to the free throw line. If slender Missouri guard Kim English can lock him down, what will happen when the pros get their hands on him?
FROM THE TWEETDECK
Peter Schrager: “Good to see Victor Cruz at the Grammys. Phil McConkey was not at them in 1987. Times have changed.”
The Fake ESPN: “Congrats to T.O. for winning a GRAMMY for best subject of a blues song.”
Phil Coke’s Brain: “If God had to take a Houston, why couldn't it be the Astros?”
Eric Stangel: “Holy crap! Jeremy Lin just won a Grammy!!!!! Is there anything he can't do? #Knicks”
Steve Rushin: “Coming up: Katy Perry, The Band Perry and Steve Perry in an all-star tribute to Gaylord Perry. #Grammys”
Drew Magary: “CLARKSON BROUGHT THAT MIC WITH HER FROM THE SUPR BOWL THAT'S HER LUCKY SPARKLE WAND.”
FROM THE BLOG-O-SPEAR
The gang at It’s Always Sunny In Detroit was abuzz over the latest sports romance:
We've just found the first imperfection in Tom Brady's armor. Before too long, Brady will be related through marriage to one of the ugliest men in baseball - Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis.. According to the Boston Herald, Youkilis recently proposed to Julie Brady and spent Super Bowl weekend in Indianapolis with the Brady (sorry, I have to) Bunch.
The two have been dating for just over a year. The Herald says that the news was supposed to be hush-hush, but somehow they got word of it. Youk must have changed his relationship status on Facebook.