What if I told you the Knicks would be without Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Baron Davis, and for most of the night, Tyson Chandler and they’d win?
What if I told you their leading scorers would include Steve Novak, Jared Jeffries and Bill Walker and they’d win?
What if I told you the catalyst for this seemingly impossible concoction would be an un-drafted, Taiwanese-American, 2nd-year point guard from Harvard of all places who spent the weekend crashing on his teammate’s couch and possessed a total of zero starts and 39 career games played entering the evening?
What if I told you that on Monday, this international man of mystery would net 28 points on 10-17 shooting and hand out 8 assists to lead the ‘Bockers to consecutive wins for the first time since January while also miraculously being thrust forward as the centerpiece of Monday’s ad campaign by MSG’s Don Drapers?
Lin-sanity, you’d say!
Indeed. It sounds like the beginning of a pitch for a fairly tired sports film. Luckily for the Knickerbockers, the above isn’t my take on a hoops-centric remake of “Damn Yankees,” it actually happened! Out of nowhere, the team’s season-long point guard issues actually appear to have been solved by one Jeremy Lin, who was recently showing off his skills for the Erie Bayhawks of the NBA Development League.
Stories like this one are the reason fans devote so much time, money and emotional currency to sports. In many or even most facets of life, unlike Hollywood, the good guys don’t win and David doesn’t sling the rock that bops Goliath. Most people don’t even get the chance to play David or Goliath. Far more often that not, rather than an epic, Manichean struggle, one’s life is filled with half-measures, unsolvable or inscrutable problems, maddening inconsistencies and vast shades of grey.
So when a player like Jeremy Lin bursts on to the scene, each foray to the rim a whirling dervish of effort and improbability, and actually vanquishes seemingly far more powerful foes even though, as an extra added burden, he’s surrounded by the Knicks lesser (to say the least) offensive lights, well…one cannot help but feel as though his victory is truly ours, that he is we, finally acting with bravado where we had been timid, rising from obscurity and seizing center stage to become the city’s latest darling.
Heck, gushing adoration of the underdog is practically a requirement for citizenship in the nation of New York City. By any statistical or anecdotal measure, making it in this town is darned tough. So when a John Starks or a Victor Cruz actually does overcome the overwhelming odds, it’s a straight shot to the heartstrings of every New Yorker trying to scrap and claw their way to the top. Not that one isn’t thrilled to death when Carmelo or Amar’e drain the game-winning shot, it just doesn’t have the same oomph as when Jeremy Lin nails an off-balance three with the shot clock running down. If only because one, the former is expected and two, while a child can closely identify with a great player, as an adult, our limitations seem fairly set in stone, and seeing a star player’s exploits as a paradigm or emblematic of our own mundane, daily endeavors becomes a far more daunting proposition.
We don’t know how the rest of this tale will unfold. Given the incredibly limited sample size, it’s unlikely that Jeremy Lin will continue to dazzle. For now, it’s enough to bask in the comforting warmth of hope that his seemingly boundless potential provides.
“At this point, if Jeremy Lin turned wine into bread and walked on fish, I wouldn’t be surprised. If Barack Obama named him Secretary of the Lin-terior — a completely new cabinet position wherein he’d just be paid to show up and smile, that wouldn’t surprise me. If next week he eloped with MSG’s Tina Cervasio that wouldn’t surprise me either. Whether he “crashes and burns,” “comes back down to earth,” or “regresses to the mean” — all common mantras from Twitterati haters of late — is, at this point, almost irrelevant. The kid has something special.“
That is special, indeed.