Leave Jeremy Lin Alone

The NBA-ification of the Chinese Basketball Association

AP Photo/The Canadian Press/Frank Gunn Jeremy Lin

Linsanity Bag

What, you thought the Sports Guy would let this one go?

It’s really hard to get your own mailbag from me. As far as I can remember, it’s only happened once: when Bernard Karmell Pollard wrecked Tom Brady’s knee in 2008. But with America going Linsane in the Membrane, we didn’t have any choice — it’s time for the all-Linsanity mailbag. As always, these are actual e-mails from actual readers.

Q: Over/Under on Jeremy Lin references in your next mailbag: 13.5. Who could blame you for going over? You wrote the Bible of basketball, so you can provide context. Have you ever seen anything like this?!
— Chris H., San Diego

SG: Take the over. And … no.

Q: Doesn’t LeBron James have to be kicking himself watching Jeremy Lin light up Madison Square Garden? LeBron could be the man lighting up the Garden, and he would be legendary for revitalizing basketball in New York! If he was ever to question his “Decision,” you’d think it would be on the night Lin put up 38 and drew “MVP!” chants against the Lakers.
— Casey, Dell Rapids, S.D.

SG: Poor LeBron — he really does get blamed for everything. Although you’re tapping into the single most important point of Linsanity … something that, from a “shaping the history of the league” standpoint, probably transcends anything Jeremy Lin will do for the Knicks. You know, unless he wins three titles or something. Let’s keep going.

Q: Isn’t what’s currently going on with Jeremy Lin in New York the ultimate example of why Lebron should have signed there? The kid had a few good games and now OWNS the biggest city in America. Imagine what Lebron could have done there … I know it’s beating a dead horse at this point, but what a cop out.
— Steve, London, U.K.

SG: It’s not beating a dead horse. It’s a crucial point. One more e-mail on this …

Q: Do you see how the Garden is electric with Jeremy Lin? He’s a legend in NY in less than 2 weeks. That’s what LeBron never realized. If he came to The NYK every single game would be like that. We as a city are so starved for basketball success that if he brought us a championship he would have been a Greek god in NYC just walking along with the mortals. I hate LeBron.
— KDubb, Queens, N.Y.

SG: You shouldn’t hate LeBron. You should hate the judgment/instincts/business acumen of his “advisors” (the numbskulls who pushed him toward Miami and/or didn’t talk him out of it); how he walked away from the single biggest basketball challenge (winning a championship with the star-crossed Knicks, which would have made him immortal); his bizarre choice to play with his biggest rival over trying to beat him (who does that???); the fact that he played in Madison Square Garden FOR SIX SEVEN STRAIGHT SEASONS without realizing there’s a different energy in that building (????); or this current NBA culture in which people look at themselves as “brands” instead of “basketball players” and make every decision accordingly (and ironically, no decision for LeBron’s “brand” would have been better than LeBron saving the Knicks).

Look, I love the Lin story — I can’t get enough of it. I have been following the NBA my entire life; it’s always the other leagues that had Fernandomania, Fidrych or Teeeeeee-bowwwwwwwww! Basketball isn’t supposed to have surprises like this. On a basketball court, talent always wins out no matter what game you’re watching. It happens at every level — whether you’re playing pickup, high school ball, intramurals, college ball, D-League, whatever. You always know who the best player is; you can always tell substance from sizzle; you can always differentiate the gamers from the frauds; and even when we have a late NBA bloomer (like, say, Bruce Bowen), it’s always someone who clearly had an elite skill, then figured out how to augment it with just enough other stuff to become a valuable player. People don’t come out of nowhere in the NBA. That’s why Billy Ray Bates was the go-to reference these past seven days — what else were you going to say? Even someone like Ben Wallace (a more modern example of a normal “late NBA bloomer”) excelled as a bench player for Washington before exploding for Orlando.

What’s happening with Lin right now? Unprecedented. I have never seen it before — shit, I’ve never even seen a homeless man’s version of it before. And we’re going to hit some of my favorite things about his ascent throughout this mailbag. Just know that LeBron’s shadow lingers over all of it. He could have owned New York, and more important, he should have owned New York. There was — literally — no reason that it shouldn’t have happened other than greed, hubris and (I hate to say it) just a hint of cowardice. I refuse to believe that, after playing in that building in front of those fans for seven years, it didn’t dawn on LeBron that he could have been immortal in New York. How could someone not see that? My friend Lewis (a die-hard Lakers fan) went to Friday’s Lakers-Knicks game as well as Game 7 of the 2010 Finals — he said that the crowds were identical. Think about that. Chew on it. That’s what LeBron James passed up. And I’ll bet anything that, at some point in his life, he’s going to regret it.

Q: You joked that Disney would call the Tebow movie “Fourth and God.” What’s the Lin movie going to be called?
— John, Berkeley, Calif.

SG: My first instinct was to give it a cute title like Linning Time, but when you consider this is following the real-life Rudy or Rocky script — and he’s more talented than either of them — wouldn’t we have to call it Jeremy? And have Pearl Jam remake “Jeremy” with lyrics that center around a Taiwanese-American Harvard grad saving the Knicks instead of, you know, a bullied kid destroying everyone in his class?

Q: What if Jeremy Lin is the Manchurian Hoopster, created and unleashed by ESPN to provide storylines during an otherwise dead sports period? I thought of this five minutes ago. Now I can’t fully talk myself out of it. It would be the absolute nadir (or pinnacle I guess, depending on perspective) of the evil powers of the NBA and ESPN combined. Please, talk me out of this being feasible.
— Jerod, Dallas

SG: No way — for that to be true, he would have to have attended a college filled with evil brainiac professors with a vested interest in brainwashing/corrupting him, and David Stern would have had to have gotten an honorary Ph.D. from that same college.

(Hey, wait a second … )

Q: As Jeremy Lin continues to hit game-winners by day and sleep on Landry Field’s couch by night, many are comparing Tim Tebow’s improbable run to Jeremy Lin’s. What’s the difference you ask? Just think about the questions that went through your head as you watched Tebow and Lin the first few times. When you watched Tebow, you probably wondered things like: “How did Tebow just miss that throw? How is this guy even starting?! OH MY GOD how the hell did Tebow just win that game?!?!” But watching Lin, you ask questions like: “How did a guy this good go to Harvard? How did nobody draft this guy!? HOW THE HELL were Toney Douglas, Iman Shumpert, and even Mike Bibby’s corpse starting over him?!?!” And there’s your answer.
— Alex, Eugene, Ore.

SG: Absolutely. You nailed it. The best thing about Tebow: We knew it didn’t make sense and we didn’t care. We just held on for the ride. (While assuming that ride could end at any moment.) But Lin? I watched his last few games thinking, I don’t get it. How can 29 teams whiff so badly? He can beat people off the dribble, he can shoot, he rose to the occasion when it mattered at every level, he’s not a dick, he can run high screens, he has a high basketball IQ, and it’s not that he’s too small or something. Also, the league revolves around point guards in 2012 more than any other season before it, and we’re coming off a playoffs in which a similarly unique offensive weapon who killed it in college and eventually evolved into an asset as a scoring guard (J.J. Barea) just helped Dallas win the title.

So how did everyone miss? Yeah, he’s not the greatest defender. Yeah, he’s too careless with the basketball (at least right now, as a young player). But when you remember he won AND produced in high school and college, it’s strange that nobody ever gave him a real chance. A friend of mine knows Jeremy and says that when Jeremy got waived by the Warriors, he couldn’t believe it and started to wonder if he would ever get a fair shake. At no point did Lin ever feel like he didn’t belong in the league. He just wanted one chance.

On the other hand, if you zip through everyone’s rosters, it makes a little more sense: Either teams had already invested draft picks in young backup points (Jimmer Fredette, Avery Bradley, Josh Selby, etc.), traded for ones that needed to play (Goran Dragic, Jerryd Bayless, etc.), overpaid for them in free agency (Bassy Telfair, Jordan Farmar, etc.), made moves for a backup before Lin became available (Utah, New Orleans, Atlanta, etc.), couldn’t get rid of the ones they had (Derek Fisher, Chris Duhon, Beno Udrih, etc.) or were already stacked at the position (Denver, the Clippers, Portland, Philly, etc.). The only teams that had no excuse: Golden State (who had him!), Washington (unless you’re a big Shelvin Mack fan), Phoenix (who never should have invested in Telfair to begin with) and, of course, the Lakers (who totally whiffed). Of course …

Q: This just hit me: If Stern doesn’t veto the Lakers/Rockets/Hornets trade Jeremy Lin would still be a Rocket. Houston couldn’t keep Lin because they already had 3 PG’s with fully guaranteed contracts (Lowry, Dragic, Flynn). If the trade is allowed to go through, Lin would have been able to take Dragic’s spot on the roster. Instead Stern vetoes the trade, and now Lin is singlehandedly saving the Knicks season, and keeping them out of the lottery. Oh ya, Houston owns New York’s first rounder (top 5 protected). Is it possible Stern knew all this, and this was his actual reason for vetoing the trade? Also is this Stern’s way of getting back at Houston for booing him after Game 7 of the NBA Finals? Let’s be honest, the man isn’t above grudges.
— Adam Spolane, Houston

SG: I love when Daryl Morey writes me with the alias “Adam Spolane.” And yeah, you’re right — if the Gasol trade goes through and Houston follows that up by signing Nene (something the Rockets believe would have happened, even if the rest of the league is dubious), here’s Houston’s team right now: Kyle Lowry, Courtney Lee, Chandler Parsons, Nene and Pau Gasol (starters); Jeremy Lin, Marcus Morris, Patrick Patterson, Jordan Hill, Chase Budinger, Free Agent 2-Guard to Be Named (bench). Pretty interesting. Daryl will now light himself on fire.

(PS: Did you notice Houston was awarded the 2013 NBA All-Star Game last week? My buddy House is convinced that was Stern’s way of apologizing for screwing the Rockets over. It’s like Warden Norton letting Andy Dufresne shine his shoes right after he killed Andy’s buddy who could have testified that Andy was innocent, and throwing Andy in the hole for two months for calling him “obtuse.” Sorry about what happened, Houston — here, shine my shoes with the 2013 All-Star Game!)

Q: Is Jeremy Lin the biggest star from Torrance since Eddie Adams?
— Matt, Los Angeles

SG: He’s a big, bright shining star. It’s a real point guard, Jack.1

Q: Do you know what impresses me most about Jeremy Lin? The genuinely giddy reactions he inspires from his teammates. Watch the aftermath of his game-winning shot against the Raptors: Jared Jeffries nearly dislocates a shoulder with a flying hip-bump, Steve Novak inexplicably begins humping Linsanity’s leg, Tyson Chandler heaves him about two feet into the air. Not one teammate seems remotely jealous of his statistics, heroics, or instant worldwide adoration. And it’s not just any team rallying around his success; it’s the New York Knicks, the league’s most perpetually dysfunctional franchise (that doesn’t have Don Sterling’s greasy fingerprints all over it). Isn’t that more amazing than any shot he’ll ever hit in his life?
— S.K.E. Banerjee, NYC

SG: And that’s been one of my favorite things about Linsanity. The Knicks were going to miss the playoffs; even worse, it was genuinely depressing to watch them. Offensively, they looked broken — two ball-stopping forwards, no point guard, no shooters — and their coach was sitting glumly on the sidelines with one of those vacant “please, fire me, I’m not man enough to quit” looks on his face. Their fans were slowly starting to panic about Carmelo’s crappy season, especially with Danilo Gallinari (whom they loved last year) emerging as a star in Denver. If that wasn’t bad enough, anyone who lived in New York couldn’t watch the team because the MSG Network disappeared from their cable systems. There was just a general plague hanging over the team. You could feel it. Especially when you went to the games. Stuck at 8-15 without Carmelo and Amar’e, you could say they were — unequivocally — at the do-or-die portion of their regular season.

Then, Lin starts playing at point guard … and within a week, they’re acting like a 15-seed pulling off a March Madness upset (only game after game). And yeah, I know race is hanging over this story — sometimes that happens for phony reasons, sometimes it happens for real ones, and in this case, it’s real and should hang over it a little. But if Lin happened to be white or black, I’d like to think this story would be 85 percent as fun — it’s mostly about his style of play (wildly entertaining), the whole out-of-nowhere underdog thing (always our favorite type of story as sports fans), its effect on Knicks players and Knicks fans (basically, it’s turned both groups delirious) and the fact that it’s the Knicks (who have four generations of fans, play in our biggest market and needed a feel-good story more than just about any other team). You know what’s really amazing? That he saved the Knicks’ playoff hopes AND saved his coach’s job has almost been an afterthought.

(Also an afterthought: What about Friday night’s Lakers game, when Lin was staring at a mountain of hype, a nationally televised audience, that super-excited Knicks crowd and an almost certain letdown game … and instead, he rose to the occasion and enjoyed the best performance of his career? That performance single-handedly extinguished the “Is this a flash in the pan?” dialogue and made people recalibrate his NBA ceiling. Oh, and it ended up being the perfect ending to a sports movie that’s now on its seventh or eighth ending. He could have faded into Flip Murray-esque obscurity after that Lakers game and still lived off it for the next 20 years. Instead, it’s just a small part of a much bigger story. Incredible.)

Q: In ESPN fantasy, Lin went from 0% owned to 100% owned in less than a week. Is there anyone else in the history of fantasy sports that was picked up that fast?
— Tony, Plymouth, Mich.

SG: In my fantasy hoops league, every team has $83 total to spend on our weekly free agent auction. My buddy Hench paid $74 (everything he had left) for Lin on Sunday night. And you’re telling me Linsanity DIDN’T deserve its own mailbag???

Q: Is Jeremy Lin the NBA’s equivalent of CM Punk in the WWE this past summer?
— Billy M., Blacksburg, Va.

SG: Does this mean Carmelo is going to be Triple H — the egotistical, overrated star who couldn’t handle that something good was happening without him, so he interjected himself into the storyline and ended up throwing a wet blanket on all the momentum? I sure hope not. That reminds me …

Q: How do Madison Square Garden fans react if Carmelo Anthony becomes a ball-stopping killer of the fun, “we’re passing to, and pulling for, our teammates” brand basketball Lin has brought to the Garden? How does D’Antoni react? How does Dolan react? Does Anthony remotely care about how the NY fans (clearly he doesn’t care about Denver fans) coach and owner reacts?
— William, Jersey City

SG: Are you kidding? This is one of the underrated Linsanity subplots — here’s Carmelo Anthony, one of the league’s best scorers and someone who desperately wanted to play in New York2 … only it didn’t go well from Day 1 … only now, he’s been given this mulligan (in every respect) because of Lin’s ascent … only every Knicks fan is terrified that Carmelo is going to screw this up … and by the way, if he messes it up even for one game, they’re going to turn on him faster than women turned on Angelina after she broke up Brad and Jen. Can you remember an NBA star dealing with more pressure from his own fans in the regular season than Melo playing his first MSG/Linsanity game? They will turn on him immediately if he screws it up. Repeat: immediately.

But here’s the fun part: Carmelo is really, really good. We saw him rise to the occasion during the 2008 Olympics: Give him good teammates, a great crowd and a little pressure and he will NOT shrink from the moment.3 When Carmelo has it going, he starts taking it to the hole like a hot running back, getting into the paint again and again — which will only help open the floor for Lin. We also haven’t seen Melo play with a point guard who can get him open jumpers or fast-break layups since he left Denver. So on paper, this partnership should work. But if New Yorkers turn on him and make him feel like it’s a no-win situation from Game 1? He’ll take it personally, he’ll get a little sulky … and this will spiral toward a bad place.

Even on Friday night, one of my friends e-mailed me that he was leaving the Lakers game and heard five different giddy “What can we get for Melo???” conversations with Knicks fans. And that’s the thing: They could get a ton for him. They could package Chandler and Melo for Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu’s contract in about three seconds. They might be able to pull off a three-teamer that nets them Kevin Martin, Luis Scola and a pick (with Pau Gasol going to Houston). I’m pretty sure Golden State wouldn’t turn down Melo (for Monta Ellis and Klay Thompson); same for Indiana (for Danny Granger, Tyler Hansbrough and a pick) or Memphis (for Rudy Gay and a pick). I’m pretty sure Boston would trade Paul Pierce and multiple first-rounders for Carmelo in about 3.3 seconds. Did any of these ideas seem conceivable as recently as two weeks ago? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Of course not.

Having said that …

I have enough faith in Carmelo’s basketball DNA to say this with complete confidence: He will rise to the occasion. He will. You watch. This will not be HHH 2.0.

Q: I’m hoping somewhere in a New York playground, Rumeal Smith is challenging Carmelo Anthony to a one-on-one pick-up game.
— Woozie, Seattle

SG: That might be the single most obscure movie reference in mailbag history … and what really scares me is (a) I got it right away, and (b) it actually worked.4

Q: The Giants won the Superbowl. ESPN consistently ranks the Rangers as the best team in the NHL. The Yankees just fixed their biggest problem (pitching). And Jeremy Lin energized the Knicks to an unbelievable degree and pushed them onto a five game winning streak without their two best scorers. Lin makes the Knicks play defense and makes Jeffries an offensive threat. That means that New York could possibly sweep all four titles. Please describe in detail the depressive stint you’ll go through if that happens. I mean in detail. A minute by minute breakdown of your breakdown please.
— Paul Leszczynski, New York

SG: I’m already operating under the assumption that this WILL happen. In fact, congrats to everyone in New York for sweeping the 2012 titles — it’s going to be an incredible achievement (one for the ages, as Jim Nantz would say) and you should all enjoy the ride. You’re going to make history this year. Congrats in advance.

Q: Jeremy Lin is a product of the packed-like-sardines-in-a-can NBA season. Fewer days, if any, between games means less scouting reports for unknown players. Lin has no outside jumper and he can’t go left. Just like a 2-pitch rookie pitcher that starts 4-0 while not topping 88 on the radar gun, Lin will fizzle out when the scouting reports catch up.
— Peter Stiefel, Iowa City

SG: Come on, the scouting reports already caught up with him — everyone knows he can’t go left, that he’s sloppy with the basketball, that you shouldn’t backpedal when it seems like he’s about to drive, and that you should attack him on the other end (like Calderon did in Toronto). Did that stop him from scoring the last six points and making the biggest shot of the Raptors game? No. It is what it is — he’s going to land somewhere between “J.J. Barea 2.0” and “Poor Man’s Nash” as a basketball player. Doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the hell out of the ride.

Q: It has been such a thrill to watch the emergence of Jeremy Lin. In fact my only regret as a Knicks fan is we didn’t have him on the team last season so that Dolan could have included Lin in the package to Denver.
— Robert, Santa Monica

SG: (Applauding.)

Q: I just watched the Lin post-game interview after he dropped 38 on the Lakers. In the interview, he calls D’Antoni “an offensive genius.” Honestly, if you’re D’Antoni do you start believing in God real hard core? I mean this guy basically came out of nowhere, saved his job, makes him look like a genius, and talks about God non-stop. I think if you’re D’Antoni you believe this guy was sent to you directly from heaven. That sounds totally weird and totally rational at the same time.
— Geoff, New York

SG: Weird because it’s insane, rational because it’s true — D’Antoni was maybe two more losses away from getting fired, then taking over some ailing Division 1 school and reinventing himself as a run-and-gun college coach. If that didn’t work, the WNBA was the next stop. And by the way, if you don’t think any of this sounds realistic, check out Paul Westhead’s Wikipedia page.

Q: How would you rate Jeremy Lin’s unbelievable week in the context of NBA history? Has anyone else ever leapt from an “about-to-be-cut” player to a marquee team leader in such a short time?
— HK Chia, Singapore

SG: Everyone keeps bringing up Billy Ray Bates, but there’s just no comparison — Bates came out of nowhere to help a 38-44 Blazers team sneak into the 1980 playoffs during an era when (a) there was no Internet, (b) barely anyone had ESPN, (c) there were no sports radio or talking-head shows, (d) there were no League Pass or TNT/ESPN contracts, (e) fans cared so little about the NBA that CBS routinely tape-delayed playoff games or didn’t show them altogether. It’s really hard for me to believe that Bates resonated even 1/100th as much as a 1980 Portland Trail Blazer as Lin is resonating right now as a 2012 New York Knick. Only after David Halberstam’s classic The Breaks of the Game (the best sports book ever) was released did Bates develop any real legacy beyond Brent Musburger breathtakingly pimping him before a Round 1 Sonics-Blazers game on CBS. And that’s the BEST comparison to what’s happening with Lin — something that didn’t even come close to working.

Q: Forgive me, for I am only 22 and grew up in Cleveland. Is Linsanity cooler or less cool than Fernandomania?
— Andy, Chicago

SG: That’s the better comparison — came out of nowhere, played in a big market, invigorated a franchise, submitted a series of quirky/entertaining/remarkable performances, generated a ton of hype and kept living up to it, and if that’s not enough, tapped into a collective pride for an ethnic group (Mexicans for Fernando, Asians for Lin) that turned it into a much more meaningful story and transcended typical rooting interests. I’d put Fernandomania ahead of Linsanity only because Fernando was a better player — remember, he won the Cy Young Award as a rookie — and because Americans cared more about baseball in 1981 than they do about basketball in 2012.

At the same time, it’s easier to experience Linsanity: You can see every game or at least monitor every moment of it. For instance, I missed last night’s game because I went out with my family for Valentine’s Day; when Lin hit the game-winner, my BlackBerry blew up with texts, my Twitter feed blew up, and within an hour, I was home watching a replay of the fourth quarter (thanks to League Pass) on my iPad. Linsanity is more inclusive than Fernandomania. Unless you’re a Time Warner customer in the New York area.

Q: I can’t get enough of this guy. I feel like walking into a bar and ordering a Jeremy Lin.
— Matt Allen, De Nang, Vietnam

SG: That’s another reason why this is 100 times bigger than Billy Ray Bates — do you really think anyone living in Vietnam in 1980 had an opinion on Billy Ray Bates???

Q: Can we not do better than “Linsanity”? I mean who really wants this young man to be tied in any remote way to Vince Carter?
— Marcus, Pensacola, Fla.

SG: Great point. We should probably drop “Linsanity” and any other cutesy puns playing off Lin’s name or ethnicity, even if they’ve been fun these past 10 days — he should just be Jeremy and that’s it. Who’s the defining “Jeremy” in sports right now? Jeremy Roenick retired years ago. Jeremy Shockey never quite made it. Neither did Jeremy Hermida or Jeremy Giambi. I think the “Jeremy” one-name status championship belt is wide open. Why fight it?

Q: Can you please ask Dork Elvis what he didn’t see in Jeremy Lin?
— Jack, Boulder

SG: Hold on a second … didn’t 27 teams pass on Lin? Why is everyone pointing at Houston and Golden State like they did something wrong here? Houston had too many guys with guaranteed contracts and two point guards (Lowry and Dragic) ahead of him on their roster. Golden State waived him to create cap space so they could make their ill-fated run at DeAndre Jordan before eventually settling on Kwame — you’re right, that was pretty dumb. But the whole league dropped the ball here, not just Golden State and Houston. And don’t forget the part where, for a couple of weeks after Lin joined the Knicks, Mike D’Antoni never acknowledged him or called him by his name. A source close to Lin tells me that this was 100 percent true. D’Antoni had totally checked out; if Baron Davis came back two weeks sooner, the Knicks probably would have cut Lin before Linsanity even started. So blame the whole league for blowing this. Besides, hasn’t Dork Elvis suffered enough?

(Wait, he hasn’t? Hold on … )

Q: Dear Jeremy Lin,
Clearly you’ve watched Batman Begins too many times and it’s affecting your brain. Please, just let Gotham crumble and die.

The Rockets 2012 draft pick
— Matt, Dallas

SG: That’s another crazy wrinkle of Linsanity — Stern vetoes the trade, Houston waives Lin, New York’s season gets saved by Lin, and Houston loses a potential lottery pick. Put it this way: We’re almost definitely doing another 30 for 30 series starting this fall. There’s a 99 percent chance we’re doing a 30 for 30 called “Linning Time” … and a 60 percent chance we’re doing a 30 for 30 called “The Veto.”

Q: What would you say if I told you that an undrafted Asian-American point guard from Harvard would set the NBA on fire?
— @dantevacca (via Twitter)

SG: As you can tell, we’re leaning toward “Linning Time.”

Q: Watching Lin and Chandler run pick and rolls together and then low-five is like watching the most bizarre buddy cop movie ever.
— Drew, Tucson

SG: Agreed. And by the way, Chandler has gotten lost in the shuffle here — he’s the perfect high screener for Lin’s pick-and-roll game and a big reason why Lin has been playing so well. If you put Lin on, say, the Wizards with JaVale McGee instead of Chandler? This would not be happening. And also, the Knicks never would have signed Chandler had Dallas re-signed him OR Golden State just sucked it up and offered him $64 million, which means they would have kept Chauncey Billups, which means they never would have signed Lin … (seriously, how many “what ifs” can one situation have?).

Q: It just hit me after watching Lin put up 38 against the Lakers — he’s a younger version of Roy Hobbs. Both came out of nowhere. Both are in New York. Carmelo is Bump. D’Antoni is Wilford Brimley. I could even imagine a scene where D’Antoni said to Lin, “Basketball practice … be there,” and Lin replies “I have been. Every day.” Look for Lin to get a girlfriend, go into a slump, then rebound and the Knicks make the playoffs.
— David, Gurnee, Ill.

SG: I like this real-life version of The Natural much more than the version we already have going … you know, the one in which Kim Basinger plays Gisele Bundchen.

Q: Please tell me that watching a volleyball game on NBA all star weekend between the all stars would not be the most entertaining thing you could watch … besides Jeremy Lin. But seriously, they are both awesome.
— Brett R., Jericho

SG: Can’t we have both? I’d much rather watch NBA players play volleyball over whatever always happens on All-Star Saturday. By the way, let’s say Rose can’t play in the All-Star Game because of his ailing back and the league says, “Screw it, we know this is wrong, we know this violates the sanctity of this process, but we can’t help ourselves … we’re replacing Rose with Jeremy Lin and we’re doing this because the game will be more fun with Jeremy Lin, and really, that’s the only reason.” Who would object to this? Do you know a single person?

Q: Like everyone, I’ve been watching the Lin circus for the past 6 games. I hate to be a downer, but if we go on those games alone (the others he barely played in and don’t count) he’d be leading the league in turnovers. Why hasn’t anyone brought this up? I love a Cinderella story as much as the next guy, but cmon dude, take care of the ball!!!
— David W., Adelaide, South Australia

SG: All fair points, just remember that (a) he’s basically a rookie, (b) he went from not getting any real run for nearly 21 months to playing 38 minutes a game, (c) the Knicks were playing without their best two offensive weapons, which meant Lin had to be their sole creator, and (d) starting with the Lakers game, every opponent approached the Knicks by saying, “We need to stop Jeremy Lin to stop the Knicks.” Once Carmelo comes back and Lin gets more comfortable, the turnovers will come down. By the way, e-mails from South Australia and Vietnam?!?!?!? How could you doubt the wisdom of a Linsanity mailbag???

Q: I was walking my dog and like every other Asian-American in America, watching every Jeremy Lin youtube clip I could get my hands on and realized that Jeremy Lin sounds EXACTLY like Matt Saracen. Then I started to delve a little deeper into this half-baked thought.

1. Both were thrust from outsider status into the spotlight under unexpected circumstances and subsequently thrived.
2. They are both quiet, humble leaders, and their teammates love them
3. Both became instrumental to their team’s success and turned around what seemed to be hopeless seasons.
4. Seriously, have you listened to JLin talking? It’s uncanny!
5. They’re best friends with a guy named Landry.

That’s probably where the similarities end as Jlin comes from a good family, is very religious, and went to Harvard, but that just makes it sound even more like a movie script. More than Fourth and God starring Zach Efron on steroids as Tim Tebow. If someone submitted the script with the plotline of “an undrafted Asian kid from Harvard dreams of making it in the NBA and turns an entire franchise around and sets the nation on fire” as a movie, it’d get rejected for being too unrealistic.
— Stuart, Los Angeles

SG: My buddy Gus made this point on Twitter — we’re not allowed to say “Hollywood would never make this script about Lin.” Have you seen the scripts Hollywood makes? They’d absolutely make this script! They just made The Vow and The Grey! Shit, 15 years ago, they made a movie about Whoopi Goldberg getting plucked out of the stands to coach the Knicks and turn their season around. You’re telling me they’re turning down the Asian American Rocky/Rudy crossed with Hoosiers set in New York?

Q: Linsanity is all fun and games now, but the biggest loser out of this has to be Derrick Rose right? Next year will be the first time that the Asian vote will actually distort the All-Star lineups. If Lin’s on the ballot, Rose may never start in the All-Star game again. We didn’t ever have a problem with Yao Ming since he was always one of the best centers anyways, but Lin over Rose?
— Larry, Los Angeles

SG: I don’t think there’s ever been a better example of a “let’s cross that bridge when we come to it” e-mail.

Q: Please tell me why so many people are missing the main issue with Jeremy Lin. The reason he “came out of nowhere” and people “can’t believe so many colleges and scouts missed the mark” is because of his race. Why does this issue get swept under the rug by all the analysts like it wasn’t the MAIN reason why he didn’t get any colleges scholarships, didn’t get drafted and got cut by two NBA teams? I find it amusing some people say Lin is getting all the attention because of his race and not for his play but the same reason he didn’t get noticed is because of his race. It’s like people are hatin’ because of his race but don’t realize his race is why “he came out of nowhere” in the first place.
— Rick, Philly

SG: People are starting to write about this, and they should — it’s a good angle, although I’d argue that his Harvard pedigree caused people to overlook him just as much as his ethnicity. Still, the real problem was threefold: He didn’t blow anyone away during his Golden State stint last year; he played a position that was pretty filled throughout the league; and because of the lockout, he didn’t have a chance to blow anyone away during training camp. Remember, good players always make a leap from Year 1 to Year 2 — from what we’ve seen of Lin these past two weeks, it’s safe to say that, without the lockout, the right training camp (and the right team) would have allowed his ascent to happen in a much more traditional way. Would it have been as much fun as Lin coming out of nowhere to save the Knicks’ season and energize their fan base two days before he was getting cut while he was sleeping on a buddy’s coach the whole time? NOOOOOOOOOOOO! Not in a million years! I’m glad it played out this way.

One last note on the race angle: I don’t mean to shy away from it, because he’s tapping into something much larger than just “saving the Knicks.” There’s been a subtle racism lurking behind everything that’s happened these past two weeks; you can’t help but notice it when they show someone holding a “Yellow Mamba” sign in the stands (which happened Friday night), or with the people who crossed the line on Twitter (that’s still going), or even the late-night monologue-type jokes like “Of course Jeremy Lin would go well with MSG” or “Who said Asians couldn’t drive?,” which sound relatively harmless until you think, Wait, nobody would be making ‘black’ jokes if Lin were black. I asked two of my friends — one Korean American, one Chinese American — if this bothered them during these past two weeks. Here’s what they said.

Friend No. 1 (Jay Kang, fellow Grantlander): “There’s always going to be some shit kicked up by haters, but the outpouring of excitement and love has overwhelmed the usual racist clatter. That doesn’t mean I haven’t rolled my eyes a couple times or even gotten angry. But there’s a difference between someone who says something a bit insensitive out of genuine enthusiasm and someone who is just trying to get off his bitter rocks. It’s important to not hawk over Linsanity with that much vigilance; it’s basketball and it’s a bunch of dudes typing reactions on Twitter. There’s just no reason to let a few racist assholes ruin the best party of the year. Yes, some of these comments have highlighted that we, as a society, don’t treat all racism equally, but if you didn’t know that already, you’ve been living in a hole somewhere. More important, if you can’t look at Jeremy Lin and see why America is the greatest country in the world, well, then you don’t understand America.”

Friend No. 2 (my buddy Chen): “Yeah, there’s a racial component ? he’s yellow, he looks like us, you’re always going to be sensitive to certain comments. But the fact that his story has transcended race is the real story for me ? who doesn’t identify with him? Asian Americans, Harvard grads, New York City, working stiffs, religious people, people in the Far East, even anyone who’s been dumped by their employer or their girlfriend ? he’s hitting multiple demos. Every single color and ethnicity on the rainbow identifies with the guy; it’s gone beyond the yellow barrier. The real story to me is how this has crossed over — it’s a business story because of the economic impact (merchandise sales, ticket sales, MSG stock) and a human story (something that transcends sports, actually). So you’re always going to have a few things that are unsavory. A couple of unfortunate comments, maybe some people he knew trying to exploit it. Overall, I think it’s one of the most amazing sports stories I can remember and that’s what I am taking away from this.”

(Me too.)

Q: For those of us in Brooklyn who live in rentals where satellite dishes are not an option, this story is the real Linsanity.
— Vincent, Brooklyn

SG: Great point. James Dolan is the best — he could win the lottery and somehow accidentally set the ticket on fire while lighting a victory cigar.

Q: In light of the recent emergence of Jeremy Lin (and the glorious pun possibilities that his name brings), My coworkers and I were discussing the inevitable Jeremy Lin song, a la Tim Tebow’s Fire (anything would have to be better than that shit burger of a song). The best (or maybe the worst) we have come up with so far were “Lin” (remake of “Ben”), “Lin Beneath my Wings”, and my personal favorite, “Lin in the End” (complete with a “Teen Wolf”-type montage). Your thoughts?
— Matt, Ridgeland, Miss.

SG: You’re not topping Mark Safan’s “Win in the End.” Especially because it would be so easy to switch “Win” for “Lin” and tweak the lyrics.

I was down to zero
Still an unsung hero
Waiting for my ship to come to shore
I stood empty-handed
A Harvard star now stranded
Watching all the other players soar

I was slowly losing hope
Benched at the end of my rope
Watching Shumpert screw things up
I was going to extremes
Losing sight of all my dreams again
I never thought I’d win

I was blinded by the pain
D’Antoni was driving me insane
Sleeping on my buddy’s coach
Inches from the NBA edge
Fingers clinging to the ledge again
I never thought I’d win

Lin in the end
I’m gonna win in the end
Lin in the end
I’m gonna win in the ennnnnnnnd

(Did I really spend the last 20 minutes figuring that song out? Yup, this is your sports columnist.)

Filed Under: Linsanity

Bill Simmons is the founding editor of Grantland and the author of the New York Times no. 1 best seller The Book of Basketball. For every Simmons column and podcast, click here.

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