The Home Team / Lin-sanity and my quality of life
Published 7:19 am, Thursday, February 23, 2012
I can hear it already. "Are you writing about sports again?"
That's what my wife is going to say when I ask her to proofread this column.
No, actually, I'm not writing about sports again. I'm writing about Lin-sanity, and that's way bigger than sports. If you don't already know about the Jeremy Lin phenomenon -- get to know it.
For the three of you out there who haven't yet been exposed to this story, Jeremy Lin is the new point guard sensation of the New York Knicks. I have never, ever, ever, seen anything remotely like Lin's explosion onto the national scene, and I've been a hardcore sports fan for over half a century. Tebow-mania can't even touch this. Tim Tebow, after all, was a first-round draft pick in the NFL, and he was a household name long before he turned the Denver Broncos' season around.
Just three weeks ago, Jeremy Lin was nobody.
How to get some sort of toe-hold on Lin's miraculous emergence? Picture a kid on his driveway, shooting hoops all by himself. Picture that kid "announcing" the game as he plays, casting himself as the star. Game seven of the NBA finals . . . Five seconds to play . . . He crosses half-court . . . He approaches the three-point line . . . He shoots . . . He scores! The crowd goes crazy!
In the real-life Jeremy Lin version of this fantasy, one week later that kid actually is in the NBA, winning game after game at the buzzer.
No way you could make this stuff up. Earlier this month, Lin was the last man on the bench on a team going nowhere fast. He was an unrecruited, undrafted, Asian-American backcourt man who played his college hoops at Harvard -- in a league where there were exactly zero other American-born players of Chinese or Taiwanese descent and exactly zero other Ivy Leaguers.
Three weeks later he's the mega-star point guard of the New York Knicks, playing his home games in the World's Most Famous Arena. He'll be spending the next few days in Orlando as part of NBA's All-Star weekend, participating in the Rising Stars Challenge. Later this week he'll be on the cover of Sports Illustrated for the second consecutive issue. (Move over, Kate Upton.) Maybe even more amazing, last week The New York Times featured Lin in two Op-Ed articles and one editorial on the same day.
More than that, my New York Knicks, who'd already been given up for dead, are "contenders" again. Coach Mike D'Antoni, who was rumored to be on the verge of being fired, is suddenly an offensive "genius." Jared Jeffries, who was being booed every time he even thought about shooting, is now playing like the "Indiana Mr. Basketball" he once was. Steve Novak, who was lucky if he got a few minutes of garbage time at the end of games, is once again the sharp-shooting three-point sniper he was in his Marquette days.
And all of this because of Jeremy Lin.
Is it too much to say that Jeremy Lin has dramatically improved my quality of life? Not at all. Last summer I suffered as my Mets disintegrated. Last fall I grimaced as my Jets tanked. Earlier this winter, it looked like more of the same endless misery with my Knicks.
Now, there's hope. Where there used to be macho isolation plays and idiotic one-on-one bravado and an endless barrage of ill-advised three-point shots, there's now motion, ball movement and pinpoint passes to the cutter. Where there used to be scowls and chest-thumping and bored, sullen faces on the bench, there now are smiles, hugs, fist-bumps, and one-for-all, all-for-one camaraderie. The lost art of teamwork has been found. Intelligence on the court is being recognized, rewarded, celebrated. And most amazing: My team looks like it's having a really good time out there.
If this is Lin-sanity, then let me stay Lin-sane.
In addition to "The Home Team," which appears every other Friday, you can also keep up with Hank's adventures with his dog, Ricky, on his blog, "Beagle Man," on the Westport News website, at: http://blog.ctnews.com/beagleman/