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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Can you handle the LIN-sanity?

If any of you follow the NBA at all, you would have heard about Jeremy Lin by now.  He has essentially become the Tim Tebow of the NBA.  A great story for a league that suffered through an extended lockout that included the cancellation of summer league, training camps, almost all of the preseason and 16 regular season games per team.  The Chris Paul trade debacle, the Dwight Howard drama, and seeing the NBA’s “elite” teams having their age catch up to them was sure to hurt the league on top of everything else.

But who is Jeremy Lin and where did he come from?  Well, the man is from Palo Alto, California.  He won a state title, was a 1st team all state selection while earning Player of the Year honors.  Even with the impressive high school resume, he was not a sought after talent out of high school.  After attempting to get recruited by UCLA & Stanford, which lead to disappointment, he settled on Harvard who could not offer him an athletic scholarship.

He went on to set numerous school records at Harvard and was named to the Ivy League first team twice.  During his career he posted impressive wins over Boston College and UCONN in which he had 30pts and 9rebs.  Lin, all things considered, had a very successful collegiate career for a guy that couldn’t even earn himself a scholarship out of high school.

Even with the success, it wouldn’t get any easier from there.  He ended up going undrafted in 2010 but did manage to work out for numerous NBA teams.  He finally stuck with one, the Dallas Mavericks, offered him a spot on their Summer League team.  He played well in the league.  Well enough to earn some interest from a handful of NBA teams, including the Golden State Warriors.
Lin would sign a 2 year deal with the Warriors.  It was a dream signing for Lin.  He was playing in his home state for his favorite NBA team growing up.  In his first season, he would only play 10 minutes a game.   He would stick with the team all season long only to be cut in December 2011.  The Warriors were looking to clear cap space to go after FA center DeAndre Jordan.

He would be claimed by the Houston Rockets.  A tough spot for Lin to land however.  The team already had 3 PGs on the roster with guaranteed contracts, Kyle Lowry, Jonny Flynn, & Goran Dragic.  Lin didn’t stand much of a chance.  I’d blame his agent.  To give the kid a fighting chance, he should have been promoting his client to teams that Lin had a chance to stick with.   Being the 4th PG on a team and you being the only one with the non guaranteed contract, the writing was on the walls.  A few weeks later Lin was waived by the Rockets to make room for FA big man Samuel Dalembert.

He would next get his shot with the New York Knicks.  This team DESPERATELY needed a PG.  They, for whatever reason, waived Chauncy Billups and relied on PGs Toney Douglas and Mike Bibby while they waited for Baron Davis to get healthy and save the day.  The Knicks were struggling but Lin couldn’t find the floor.  He made his debut with NY vs. Golden State of all teams.  He would play a limited role for much of the next month and would actually be sent to the D-League.  In his first game for the Erie BayHawks, he would drop a triple double, 28pts 11rebs 12assts.  3 days later, on Jan. 20th, the Knicks would recall him.

He would remain in a bench roll however.  On Feb. 4th Lin would finally get his chance vs. the New Jersey Nets.  With Melo struggling, Lin would come off the bench to play 35min, the most he had played the last 2 weeks combined.  He would provide the Knicks with a spark and with his career performance.  He ended up with 25pts, 5rebs, 7assts, 2stls on 10-19 shooting.  He had come out of nowhere and led NY to the victory 99-92.

The next game, on Feb. 6th, Lin had earned himself a start while Amare would miss the game due to injury.  Melo would play only 5 minutes after straining his groin in the 1st Q.  And Lin would continue his LIN-sanity by scoring 28pts and dishing out 8assts with 2stls while New York would win again 99-88.  Without Melo & Amare, Lin would lead the Knicks to a third straight W over the pathetic Wizards 107-93.  He would record his 1st double-double with 23pts and 10assts while grabbing 4rebs.

People now know who Jeremy Lin is.  He was a versatile scoring PG with the will to win and the ability to get his teammates involved.  Something Melo & Amare couldn’t do while leading the Knicks to an 8-15 record.  With new excitement and better ball movement, the Knicks without their high paid superstars had won 3 in a row and were looking forward to welcoming Kobe and the Lakers to town.  All of a sudden it had turned into Lin vs. Kobe.  Kobe was not aware of “LIN-sanity” so he said.  He would after the game at MSG when the Knicks would win again 92-85.  Lin would have his best game yet.  He had 38pts, 4rebs, 7assts, 2stls on 13-23 shooting and 2-4 from long distance.  He out battled Kobe to give the Knicks their 4th straight win.

Then, on Saturday night, the Knicks would win their 5th straight 100-98 over Kevin Love and the Timberwolves.  Lin would hit some key late free throws while finishing with 20pts, 6rebs, 8assts, 3stls.

Now, with the Knicks back in the hunt for the playoffs, is LIN-sanity for real?  Can this kid continue his short term success?  What will happen when basketball black holes Melo and Amare come back or will they play off of their budding star PG?

I for one, am a believer.  It’s a PG league.  With guards like Derrick Rose doing what he do and budding stars John Wall, Kyrie Irving, Ricky Rubio making their impacts felt on weak rosters, why can’t Lin get it done in a place that already has Melo, Amare, and Chandler?  If those stars can accept that this kid can be the missing PG they been looking for, the Knicks might be the Knicks of old who contended for titles.  As a Bulls fan, that is tough to say, but I wouldn’t mind renewing the rivalry.
Keep an eye on this LIN-sanity, it’s about to get more LIN-sane!


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