At this point, you should already know who Jeremy Lin is. The23-year old, 6’3”, Chinese-American Harvard grad has managed to average 27 points and 8 assists over his first four starts for the surging Knicks and thanks Jesus for the opportunity. As if this wasn’t enough of a Cinderella story, here’s the setup. Coach D’Antoni’s team was in desperate need of a point guard, and the undrafted Lin – cut by Golden State after averaging less than 3 points a game – has been flat out phenomenal, leading the New York to 7 straight victories while the superstar Carmelo has been out. Just a week ago, nobody knew who Jeremy Lin was. Now he gets standing ovations after hitting game-winning threes on the road. Dude was literally sleeping on Landry Fields’ sofa, yo. Now he’s Spike Lee’s biggest fan and a recipient of Floyd Mayweather’s blatant racism. It doesn’t get much realer than that.
Anybody that knows me knows that I was born a Knicks fan, and that I have learned to love the Trailblazers as I would a step-son if his mom were infinitely attractive and a wonderful cook. Naturally, I’m proud of my Knicks for their lucky break; who knew the Knicks biggest acquisition might not have been Stoudemire or Anthony? At the same time though, I can’t help but wonder how a team like Portland must feel, knowing how much time and effort they consistently put into their young talents, only to see NY grab a guy off waivers who starts turning in all-star numbers. Linsanity. As much as I’d urge Rip City execs to avoid managing our team anything like the Knicks are being managed, I do think there are a couple of lessons that my step-team could take away.
First of all, stop trying to force young players to be stars. Stars rise when they are ready. Hailing every young player from Jermaine O’Neal to Martell Webster to Nolan Smith as the next big thing is detrimental to careers and doesn’t help. Jeremy Lin wasn’t even on 2K12 two weeks ago. He certainly wasn’t on any billboards and Kobe Bryant said he didn’t know who he was (he might have been distracted by the giant hole in his pocket though). Think about it. No PR campaign is going to cause a player to perform at a higher level. Don’t believe me? Ask Darius Miles.
Secondly, recognize when a player does not fit in your scheme. Rudy Fernandez is a fine example of a good player who did not fit in McMillan’s system and it took way to long before we moved him. I used to think Rudy was garbage until I saw him play in the Olympics. Travis Outlaw was another example of a player we just needed to release. The player on the current roster that comes to mind when I think of this is Luke Babbitt. I mean, I feel like he must be good at something, I’m just not sure what it is yet… Maybe another team can try and find out?
What I’m saying is Jeremy Lin is a sudden superstar. Are Golden State and Houston suffering from Faceinhand Syndrome right now for passing on this kid? Probably. Could they have known this would happen? Probably not. No amount of prepping on those teams could have benefited Jeremy as much as being in the right system at the right time. The Blazers spend a lot of time trying to build the images of young players that are not ready to lead the team only to get Greg Oden’d. Sometimes, I just wonder if it’s all worth it.
… Then again, we do have LaMarcus Aldridge and Nic Batum.