SPORTS WATCH
Down With Melo, Up With ‘Linsanity’
by Gus Jarvis
Feb 16, 2012 | 1013 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Who knew the absence of New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony would result in a nationwide Tim Tebow-esque media frenzy that caught everybody’s attention? Not me. And now we’ll get to wait and see if this frenzy will have the staying power Tebow’s had during the last football season.

Wasn’t it just last week when I said the Nuggets are a better team without Anthony, and now that the Knicks have him they seem to have inherited Denver’s past troubles? Anyway, Anthony went down with an injury and guess what? The Knicks, as of Tuesday, kicked out a five game winning streak thanks to some Harvard graduate nobody’s ever heard of before. That someone is point guard Jeremy Lin.

First, Lin came off the bench and scored 25 points and gave out seven assists against the Nets. After that, Lin caught fire and for the next four games, in his first-ever starting role in the NBA, he scored 109 points and brought the Knicks back from mediocrity and into contention. Just as “Tebowing” entered our national vocabulary, we now have “Linsanity.” The kid has done some amazing things this past week and seems to be the next great thing in the NBA.

After his starting performances, during which he averaged 27.3 points and 8.3 assists, Lin was named the NBA’s Eastern Conference player of the week. According to The Boston Globe, Lin’s 109 points are the most by an NBA player in his first four starts since 1977. And Lin became the first player in NBA history to mark at least 20 points and seven assists in each of those starts.

What makes Lin a surprise is that he was signed but then cut by two NBA teams after he graduated from Harvard with a degree in economics. Stardom for Lin in the NBA seemed impossible. He is the first American of Chinese descent to play in the NBA, and with his parents both 5’ 7” you might think he wouldn’t have the so-called genes to make it in the NBA as well. When you see this guy play, though, it’s damn entertaining. No matter who your favorite team is, you have to like this guy.

First, he’s got great vision on the court and seems to find open players with utmost ease. When the defense against the Knicks is tight, he’s not afraid to work off a pick-and-roll down low and hit an open jumper. Just when you think the only way the guy can score is by open jumpers, he then drives it to the hoop through three defenders with some crazy spin-move, draws the foul, makes the basket and then cashes his free-throw. His baseline threes have to be covered somehow. It seems like everyone he’s played so far is on their heels not knowing how to best defend him.

Since “Linsanity” has taken hold, he’s been compared to the hype of Tim Tebow over and over again. In fact, I spent 10 long hours driving the entire state of Nevada last weekend, and in that time I heard about nine-and-a-half hours of sports talk radio dedicated to that comparison. At first, I was pissed because the sports talking heads insisted on comparing a player on the court up against a player on the football field. And, at first, I didn’t even see their comparisons as valid.

Tim Tebow often played horribly yet somehow it he would come out with a victory. Lin, on the other hand, has only played incredibly well and the Knicks are winning because of Lin’s direction on the court. As I watch Lin more, though, I can see why people are so quick to compare him to Tebow.

First, there’s the hype. In a very short time, people have jumped on his bandwagon, the same way people did with Tebow. Second, he seems to say all the right things. In giving an interview after one of his victories, Lin said this hype is about something bigger and wished his teammates would get more of the attention. Sounds like something Tebow would say.

Lin, like Tebow, seems to get more out of his teammates. When Lin plays, everybody plays at a higher level. I also think the comparison works when you talk about how they are both improbably successful in their sports. They both aren’t supposed to be good, according to the so-called experts. Most of all, both Tebow and Lin make believers out of their fans. Watching him play against the Lakers the other night, I wished I was a Knicks fan. That looked like the most fun they’d had in long time. As a Bronco fan with Tebow, last season was the most fun I’d had in a long time. Lin is giving a lot of people a reason to watch the New York Knicks. It’s more than Carmelo Anthony has given his new team so far.

Like Tebow, of course there’s drama on the horizon and we’ll all be watching to see how that drama plays out. Amare Stoudemire, who was out due to the death of his brother, should have returned to the court on Tuesday night. Anthony, who is out with a pulled groin, is expected to play at the end of this week. Of course the fans want to see Lin in the starting lineup, but will it work out with Anthony in the lineup? Will Lin still have control of the court with Anthony in the game? Can Anthony, who has a history of selfish basketball, be able to play with Lin?

All of this is on the horizon and plays into the hype of Jeremy Lin. I know if I were coaching the Knicks, I’d have Melo sit out just a few more games until this winning streak is over. Until then, let Lin remain in the leadership role of this team. The fans like it, his teammates like it, everybody in the sporting world likes it.

Why let Carmelo Anthony taint another good thing?



gjarvis@watchnewspapers.com or @gusgusj
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