Why Losing Jeremy Lin Matters
Before I say anything let me just give my credentials as a die hard Knick fan: I was at the Trent Tucker game, the Reggie Miller game and I had a life sized cardboard cutout of Patrick Ewing in my bedroom window to scare off would be intruders in my Long Island home. Saying the name John Starks in front of me is like saying the name Chuck Lorre to Charlie Sheen. I cried in front of my friends when they lost in 1994. I once spent an entire game going from section to section holding up cardboard signs to try to get Isiah Thomas fired. My brother and I spent all morning putting together signs saying “Isiah killed JFK”, “Isiah sank the Subprime market” and “Isiah is hiding Bin Laden.” While my brother held those up, I followed behind with one that said “Can we fire him now?” The result was a standing ovation, two threats to throw us out of the arena (mostly because security didn’t like the “Isiah killed Kennedy sign…no one had a problem with one that said “Isiah eats babies”) and one free hat that said “FireIsiah” by a company called wevehatit.com. It was probably one of the most enjoyable days of my life. So there you have it, I’m an unabashedly, die hard Knicks fan.
Before I make my case for why the Knicks screwed up by not doing everything possible to keep Lin as a Knick, I want you to know I’m not arguing the merits of Jeremy Lin as a basketball player. The stats are there. Let the John Hollingers of the world do a moneyball analysis. No matter how you slice it, he is a good, promising, legitimate starting NBA point guard. Something the Knicks have lacked for quite sometime. Okay, maybe I’ll argue a little. He was confident, quick and aggressive and he didn’t pass every time Melo yelled at him! Sure, he turned it over A LOT, but A) he was a rookie point guard being thrust into 40 minutes a game from warming the bench for two years and B) the Knicks had no other very competent ballhandlers. He dropped 38 on the Lakers and hit a few buzzer beaters that took our breath away. Sure Lebron and Wade abused him like he was he was just some random Asian guy thrust into an NBA game, but if they set their mind to it they probably could do that to almost any point guard in the NBA. Seriously. Bottom line, he had a lot of upside and he’s MUCH better than Ray Felton, who shares a personal chef with Eddy Curry.
I also don’t want to debate whether he was worth the absurd deal from a financial perspective. I was a finance major in college, which was a while ago now, but even I realize that the Knicks could easily have made up the 40 million in luxury tax by utilizing Lin’s mass appeal to a billion person Chinese Market, not to mention raising ticket prices and their improved stock price due mostly to Lin’s arrival. BTW, does Dolan expect us to forgive and forget about Clarence Weatherspoon, Glen Rice, Eddy Curry, Chris Dudley, Jerome James, Allan Houston, Larry Brown, Isiah Thomas and Anucha Brown Sanders…not to mention the F****k you prices they charge to sit anywhere near the action without binoculars..and the F**** you to fans last year, when the contract dispute kept games off TV until Jeremy Lin singlehandedly settled things. Even if he wasn’t worth it just from a pure financial standpoint, it would been nice for once to feel like we mean something as fans. For once, to not feel like James Dolan is some spoiled rich kid who does whatever HE wants, despite it being the exact opposite of what WE want.
But it’s not about Dolan vs. the fans though. F*ck James Dolan, I hope someone puts his face on urinal cakes. The reason I wanted to write about Lin was his effect on relationships. Jeremy Lin not only inspired all of us, but he connected people. For me, it was reconnecting with friends and family I hadn’t spoken to in awhile. Sometimes only an underdog Asian kid going nuts for your favorite basketball team can do that. I moved out of NYC three years ago to move to LA. I like it here, but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss NY, especially when something like this happens. I felt like I was missing everything that was HAPPENING. The first stage of Linsanity was getting to reconnect with my dad. He’s a hotheaded Israeli man who’s sometimes difficult to talk to. He usually speaks on the phone for less than 30 seconds at a time. However, when Lin took over against the Nets, I started getting frequent calls from my dad for the next few months. I mean, not even just on game day, but every day, to talk about Lin of course, but then slowly but surely we moved onto other topics: his health, his new marriage, my career…real conversations we usually just gloss over. For anyone who has an old school dad, you know what a big deal this is. (Sidenote- one somewhat negative effect was that I had to start explaining basketball to my mom, because she too fell prey to Linsanity, but I love her for it).
It wasn’t just family that I reconnected with during Linsanity. Friends I lost touch with years ago, but knew that I shared in die hard Knicks fandom, started calling me. Friends from high school, college, even friends from my recent past that I just stopped talking to because when you’re a grown up it’s hard to call other grown ups for no reason. We now had the built in excuse of Linsanity to get over what would have been an awkward start to catching up. I got to share in their joys of being adults, getting married, having families, having career success. Linsanity was a really joyful time. In my humble opinion, anyone who wouldn’t want that feeling to continue at any cost is crazy.
Now that James Isiah Dolan has snuffed out any hope for our future as Knicks fans, I’m a little lost. I’m not just gonna become a Nets fan for godsakes. It doesn’t work like that, I don’t care what anyone on Grantland’s staff says. I’m sure I’ll have a few depressing phone conversations with my friends and my dad about Lin’s departure in the next few days. We’ll all agree that James Dolan is the anti-Christ and that somehow Isiah is responsible for this. We’ll probably even talk ourselves into a the Melo dynasty because let’s face it, Knicks fans are delusional. We’ll agree to do a better job of staying in touch with each other. Then we’ll hang up the phone, not knowing when the next time we will feel this sense of excitement and togetherness again.