The Question is Moot!*
It has come to light that our high holy savior, one Saint Jeremy of Lin, will not be playing for the remainder of the series, alas. But prior to this soul-crushing announcement, word on the street (or rather, the interwebs) was that John Kenney had gotten on his e-soapbox and has been proclaiming (or at least tweeting) for all the world to see that Jeremy Lin be dragooned out of whatever secret German clinic Dolan’s goons have him ‘recuperating’ in, and back onto the court for Wednesday night’s game. Even though the matter has been settled, I had to investigate. I couldn’t fathom why even a peevish bole weevil of a man like Kenney would espouse something so colossally short-sighted. Had Johnny boy gotten hooked on the bad stuff again? I remember the time that I spent the night with him at that Motel 6 in Passaic while he sweated it out of his system, babbling incoherently about mystical visions of corporate sinecures and cul-de-sacs with leprosy-ridden leprechauns. But since, as you well know, dear readers, I will stop at nothing to divine the absolute truth, Mr. Kenney and I offer a point-counterpoint debate in which we fully plumb the depths of this no-longer-relevant question. Here, in all its unedited glory, are the results…
Ok Bob, now listen to me for a moment. I know your greedy, one-percenter soul wants to keep Jeremy chained to the bench and “protect the Knicks’ investment.” And, if playing means Jeremy’s at serious risk of injuring himself further, then I agree with you and your money-grubbing ways. We’ve got a young, exciting point guard, and jeopardizing his career isn’t worth the chance that he might make the team slightly better in a series it will, most likely, lose.
If there’s not substantial risk of detrimental re-injury (not just swelling after the game, but a new tear of a ligament etc.)…. then Jeremy absolutely should play. Can’t you see it Bob? This is real drama! This is the stuff movies are made of! When you get your corporate account to finance tickets to the the-ay-a-ter, doesn’t something move you inside? The narrative demands he play! Think about it: Jeremy Lin is the only reason the Knicks are even in the playoffs. They were 7 games under .500 before he arrived, and then he promptly marched them right back into playoff contention. Don’t you remember the Nets, the Jazz, the Raptors, the Lakers, the Mavericks? This is a kid who willed a team to victory when it needed it most, who saved the 2011-2012 season (as much as it could be saved) and who has been hidden in the tomb like a certain religious figure for far too long. Isn’t it time for the Resurrection of Jeremy Lin?
There are arguments against him playing (besides that he might get injured,) I know. Some feel that he might be “out-of-shape” after being away so long. Some worry about how he will mesh with the Carmelo-tastic style of basketball the Knicks have adopted. Others remember that he struggled mightily against yon foes in ages past. THIS IS WHAT THE DRAMATIC ARC DEMANDS. Of course his return has to come against the team that gave him his lowest low. Of course he has to weigh short-term risk against long-term reward. Of course it has to come as his desire to help his team is weighed by pundits against his impending free agency.
I can see it now…
Cut to AGENT driving in a CONVERTIBLE on his CELL PHONE
AGENT: Jeremy, you don’t have to this. You’ve made your money. Listen to what Bucher said! Take it easy. Enjoy a few drinks on the house from your new sponsors, Morgan Robert Silverman Stanley.
Cut to JEREMY in DARK ROOM with music playing in background
Cut to D’ANTONI in DARKER ROOM with Billy Joel playing in background
Sorry, got distracted there for a moment. The point is, this Knicks season has been crazier than any I can remember. Part of this might be that the first Knicks season I can remember happened in 1998, but the more important fact is that it’s been the type of season that makes sports memorable and can turn it into art. Books could be written about it. Movies could be made about it. A musical…well….we’ll see. The narrative of the season demands it. But even better yet, (since I know a million commenters are ready to skewer me like a kebab in the comment sections for not talking about “basketball” so far…)
It can’t hurt.
The three most successful starting point guards for the Knicks throughout the course of this season were Jeremy Lin, Baron Davis, and Iman Shumpert. All are out with knee injuries, Baron and Iman are done for the season. Mike Bibby, clutch dagger 3 aside, can only play so many minutes. (I actually don’t mind JR bringing the ball up the court, or what have you, but still.) So spare me the nonsense about Jeremy being out-of-shape or a bad fit against the Heat. First off, Mike Bibby is actually a member of the upcoming undead invasion and we’re playing him. Secondly, the first time Jeremy played the Heat, he was expected to play a major role in leading the ‘Bockers to victory. This time, everyone knows he’s coming off an injury. Expectations are lowered. The game is on the road. Most people do not truly believe the Knicks will win the series. Hell, Coach Woodson, start Mike Bibby if you want to. Your rotations have made less sense than…than…well, anything else I can think of. But bring Jeremy off the bench (that’s where Linsanity first began, after all.) Let him see what he can do against the Heat’s midgame lineups. Let him be a caretaker, more Trent Dilfer than Brett Favre. If the game gets out of hand, pull him and rest him. No reason to risk it if the season is well and truly over. But if the game is close…and the Knicks D is frustrating the Heat attack…and Jeremy is looking spry…then let him play. Grant Hill came back from meniscus surgery after, what, two weeks? Every knee injury is different, but lots of meniscus tears are not that bad.
Go re-watch the Knicks-Lakers highlights, just one time. And tell me you wouldn’t start leaping for joy the first basket he hit. The fact is, the Knicks are down 3-1. Teams have come back from down 3-1 before. That is how the Knicks HAVE to approach this game, or else they might as well forfeit right now. And Jeremy Lin gives them a better chance to win the game.
I was lucky enough to be in Madison Square Garden for the Game 4 win. To see the celebration after the Knicks finally won their first playoff game in eleven years…Knicks fans know better than most just how much one of those wins is worth. When you have a chance to win a playoff game, you take it. Can you imagine Madison Square Garden if the Knicks brought this to a Game 6? Can you?
My god, it’s worse than dope. You’ve been watching MSNBC, reading Alternet articles and hanging around in some Bushwick Coffee shop/Sufi Meditation center with the likes of Chris Hedges and his ilk again, haven’t you! Look at yourself! Literally, go over to the mirror and see what all of this insane blather about narrative has done to your once finely-tuned cerebral cortex. You’ve fallen like a doe-eyed coed for the superficial pleasures of the lively arts. Let me tell you something, the real theater is nothing like the weepy romanticized twaddle you’re trying to fob off on our stalwart readership. Life in the theat-uh makes the Bataan Death March look like a leisurely stroll in on one of the tonier beaches of the French Riviera. Hell, why do you think I haul my will-submitting ass to AA meetings every evening like clockwork. Pickling my own brain and lying in the gutter in a pile of my own sick, an empty tequila bottle by my side with a particularly haggard chihuahua giving me an odd, sideways glance was preferable to writhing in a sweaty heap in bed every night, haunted by the memories of those selfish, sick, twisted, narcissistic, backbiting, ignorant, self-indulgent poopheaded dramatists that I sadly called my colleagues. And no matter how hard I work the steps scrub my medulla oblongata, I still can’t get rid of the stench. But never mind that now. If you want to talk dramatic structure, why do you assume that this will play out like a jovial musical comedy? Isn’t it just as likely that after a moment of fleeting, giddy miraculous joy like game three, the gods are ready to bring down an infernal, galactic shit-hammer upon our collective noggins in game five?
And don’t go writing dialogue into this post. FAKE SCENES ARE MY TURF, HOSS!. If you want to get dramaturgical, how’s this for a bone-crushingly awful 5th (umpteenth?) act to this Ionesco-esque nightmare of a season.
MARV ALBERT: (Sounding, as always as if he’s sporting some horrid, genital-restraining leather contraption underneath his Men’s Wearhouse suit) Welcome everyone to GAME FIVE of the 2012 National…Basketball…Association Playoffs. I’m Marv Albert and we are here In…a…SCENE that harkens back to the YEO-man EFF-orts of the GREAT…Willis Reed, Jeremy Lin…is coming out of the tunnel! And listen to the crowd at…AMERICAN…Airlines arena. They are LIT-erally shaking the building..to its foundation.
HUBIE BROWN: Okay. You’re Jeremy Lin. You have had an amazing 2nd season in which you became a worldwide phenomenon because you were able to solve the Knicks season-long problems at point guard by being able to consistently beat your man off the dribble, had amazing balance and co-ordination, were surprisingly strong for 6’3″ guard, had outstanding court vision, were able to run the pick and roll, and came up yooooge in big games because you were able to seize the moment, thereby saving Mike D’Antoni’s job for the short term and revitalizing basketball in the great city of New York only to suffer a devastating injury to your torn meniscus which as we all know is very difficult for a player whose game is so dependent on quick cuts and explosive moves to the basket. Now, in the biggest game of…
MARV: I hate to interrupt Hubie, but there is some kind of commotion going on in the layup line. It seems some kind of…ZEP-pel-in…is suspended in the RAF-ters. Why is a dirigible in the arena, Hubie?
HUBIE: Ok, you’re piloting a hydrogen-based flying machine. And…
MARV: Oh No! It burst into flames! It burst into flames, and it’s falling, it’s crashing on Jeremy Lin! Watch it! Watch it, Jeremy! Get out of the way! Get out of the way! It’s fire—and it’s crashing! It’s crashing terrible! Oh, my, Jeremy get out of the way, please! It’s burning and bursting into flames, and the—and it’s falling on Lin’s leg and all the folks agree that this is terrible, this is the worst of the worst catastrophes in the world! Lin has been burnt to death! Oh the humanity!!
After watching STAT mangle his palm on a fire extinguisher, Davis’ knee turn to a substance that most closely resembles guacamole, and Shump writhing on the ground in preternatural agony, you’re really willing to roll the dice on a set of indubtably wobbly ligaments? Do you not remember what happened to Derrick Rose? How many point guards need to be rushed back from injury this post-season only to be sacrificed at your blood altar before we start to learn from (recent) history?
And if karmic destiny isn’t enough to convince you, I’m going to go all risk-reward on your tuchus. Even at full strength, the chances of winning this series were supermodel slim at best. Like it or not, when properly motive, the South Beachers really do bring a terryfying shock and awe-level blitzkreig. For fifteen (at most) minutes a night, what is Lin really going to provide. Remember, our wunderkind hasn’t played a professional game for more than six weeks at this point. Rusty? Hell, he’s going to be covered in more reddish-brown oxidized iron than a Studebaker that’s been sitting up on blocks somewhere in Midwest since Ike Eisenhower was running the show. Is that limited result really worth the risk of permanently damaging the Chosen One? We’ve got a long-term investment to protect here! Patience, grasshopper. There will be more seasons and more brutal playoff disappointments with a soupcon of dizzying, exhilarating, high notes. At this juncture, I’d rather wed our hopes to the Corpse Bride for 25-odd minutes plus whatever point forward-ish qualities we can squeeze out of Melo and J.R.
More importantly, like the rest of your deluded, Liberal generation, you’ve fallen hook line and sinker for advertising. The Knicks aren’t selling you the steak, they’re selling the sizzle. Not the true satisfaction of accomplishment or achievement, but the false, temporary allure of “hope,” — the last refuge of the deluded romantic and the cruelest, sharpest tool ever devised to manipulate gullible Lefties like you. Sweet fancy Moses, peep what that barely-functioning knuckle-dragger/Cablevision stooge, Al Trautwig, was quoted as saying: “I always wondered how the Jeremy Lin movie would end. Here we go…Jeremy Lin returns for Game 5 and leads the Knicks to become the only team in NBA history to come back from an 0-3 deficit.” Sure, Bubba. Where do I sign? Do you want my credit card and social security number too?
No sirree. Johnny, you gotta join me and my madulin circle of miserable, self-satisfied realists. We’re not much fun at parties and the women may not like us very much, but by Jeezum crow, we’re right. That and a buck twenty-five will get you a jelly donut.
*Oh, and for all you whipersnappers who didn’t get the reference in the title, watch this. It’s a sack of funny. (Or at least it was in 1984)
Hey, did you know that in addition to banging the keys here and occasionally for the NY Times, Robert is a playwright, an actor and a wand'ring mendicant/gadfly? He also once wrestled a bear...and lost.