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Things I Havent Heard Anyone Say About Jeremy Lin Yet

***Flashback to last Saturday***

Background: It’s my dad’s birthday, and I let my mom know that I got them tickets to see The Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra. After giving her the particulars (show starts at 8, tickets are under my name, etc), the conversation segued to a surprising place.

Mom: “So, Melo’s coming back soon, huh?”

Champ: “Huh?”

Mom: “Melo.” 

Champ: “Mom, what are you talking about?”

Mom: “Carmelo Anthony. He’s supposed to be coming back soon. Do you think he’s going to be able to fit in with Jeremy Lin?”

Now, my mom never played sports herself, but she has a general understanding of the rules of each of the major sports, and she knows who the stars (and each of the Steelers) are. Basically, she isn’t one of those people who’d say something like “Oooh, nice dunk!” while watching a football game. I mean, when you have a son and a husband who are diehard sports junkies, I guess you can’t help but become a fan as well.

With that being said, I realized exactly how much hype and attention New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin has received when I saw that it managed to turn my mom into Stephen A. Smith. A woman who, just a few months ago, asked me to demonstrate for her exactly what “pick and roll” means is now asking me if “Melo” is going to ruin the Knicks’ chemistry and if he’s just a bad fit for D’Antoni’s offense.

Now, in the past couple weeks I’ve had various people ask for my take on Linsanity. I didn’t really want to write about it though, because, well, everyone else is, and I just couldn’t think of an interesting and unique angle I could take.

But, after thinking about it for a few days, there are actually a few things I haven’t heard anyone say about him yet. Not to say that they haven’t been said. I just haven’t personally seen or read them.

Here’s five of them.

1. The person who has the most to lose with Linsanity? Either Derrick Rose or Dwyane Wade.

Although the NFL is the undisputed king among professional sports in America, once you leave North American soil, the NBA is the American sports league that travels the best. China is a perfect example of this, as the NBA is the most popular sports league in the world’s biggest country.

Where do Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose fit into all of this? Well, when the NBA decided to allow fans to vote for All-Star starters online, Chinese fans took advantage of this, stuffing the ballot boxes so that Yao Ming and his Houston Rockets teammate, Tracy McGrady, were starters for the West every year. Since Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady happened to be the Western Conference’s best players at their respective positions (center and small forward) at that time, it was no big deal.

But, while it’s too late for Lin to be voted in as a starter in this year’s All-Star game, there’s absolutely no chance in hell that he won’t be picked as a starter next year. And, since he’s starting, either D. Wade or Derrick Rose won’t be. In fact, even if he starts sucking, you could probably pencil Lin in as an All-Star starter for the next four or five years.

Hmm. In a league where star players are obsessed with their legacies  — and “How many All-Star games did he start when he was in his prime?” is a question people ask when trying to determine a player’s legacy — I wonder how guards clearly better than Lin are going to feel when realizing he’s going to be starting ahead of them for years to come.

2. This could not have happened anywhere other than New York City.

People have argued that the Linsanity craze wouldn’t have happened if he happened to be in a city like Milwaukee or Memphis or Cleveland or Detroit. I agree, but for different reasons. I don’t think he’d be playing as well as he has been if he was in one of those cities. 

It’s been repeated ad nauseum that the Knicks were a perfect fit for him. Perfect coach for him to play for, perfect offense for him to run, perfect group of teammates for him to play with, and even a perfect time for him to play (His start coincidentally happened when Carmelo Anthony sat out a few games due to injury. If Melo never gets injured, Linsanity never happens)

But, as much as each of those things have helped him succeed, him being in New York F*cking City matters even more. Lin is clearly a guy who feeds off the crowd’s energy when he’s playing. Not to say that he doesn’t have genuine confidence, but the type of fearlessness (and occasional recklessness) he plays with gets a boost when you have 20,000 raucous people anticipating your every move. Madison Square Garden is the only NBA arena where 1. he’d get that type of environment and 2. the fans are knowledgeable enough to know that he needs it.

It’s obviously carried over. He has played well on the road since he became a starter. But, I just don’t think he’d have built the type of confidence to do this in Toronto if he didn’t get his initial boost in New York…and I’m sure he wouldn’t have had Raptors fans cheering for him.

3. 2011-2012 has seen a resurgence of “natural-born basketball playing” point guards. 

While they’re all great basketball players, you can argue that Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, and John Wall are athletes first. (You can also argue that John Wall is far, far, far, far, far away from being a great NBA player, but that’s another discussion for another day) Each of those guys are so athletic that they would have been great at any sport, and each of them, even MVP Rose, are still learning how to play point guard.

Yet, as Rose and Westbrook have made many assume that you need to be an amazing athlete to be a top-notch point guard today, with Jeremy Lin, Kyrie Irving (who I told y’all about two years ago), and Ricky Rubio, you have a trio of new to the NBA point guards; natural born basketball players who are succeeding despite not being world-class athletes. Of the three, Irving is (obviously) my favorite — a 19 year old (!!!) who literally has no offensive weaknesses — but I see pieces of each of them in each of their games, and this excites me as a basketball fan.

4. Jeremy Lin is handsome. This matters. 

As any sociologist will tell you, we’re hardwired to give attractive people certain advantages we don’t extend as easily to others. We assume they’re smarter, stronger, more confident, and more worthy of our trust and support. It’s no accident that most NFL quarterbacks would be considered attractive men even if they weren’t football players. In many cases, they were groomed to be quarterbacks at a young age in large part because they “looked the part” and coaches assumed they’d have the charisma and confidence to lead the rest of the team.

Why am I bringing this up? Well, there are many parallels between Jeremy Lin and Tim Tebow. Both have experienced unexpected success, both captivated the nation, and both will tell you that their success is in large part due to their Christian faith. And, just how I’d argue that Tebow wouldn’t have been as popular if he looked like, I don’t know, John C. Reilly, (In fact, I’d even go as far as to say that if Tim Tebow looked like John C. Reilly, he wouldn’t have been Tim Tebow: Star Quarterback at all), the fact that Jeremy Lin looks like he could be an American Apparel model has given Linsanity a boost that may not have occurred if he was plainer looking.

5. It’s been interesting watching people try to find parallels for Lin’s unexpected ascent. But, everyone seems to be missing the most obvious choice.

He’s been compared to Tim Tebow, Flip Murray, Billy Ray Bates, Fernando Venezuela, Tiger Woods, Yao Ming, and pretty much any other athlete who either 1. came out of nowhere to play at an all-star level for an extended period of time, 2. succeeded at a sport despite not having the racial makeup and background of the people who usually succeeded at that sport, or 3. became a national craze.

But, there’s a (seemingly) obvious name I haven’t heard yet, a person who managed to captivate the nation in a historic fashion despite having a funny name, an unusual background, and a chorus of haters who maintain that his success is only due to his race.

Hmm. Who could I possibly be talking about? I’ll give you one hint: They went to the same school. 

That’s enough Linsanity for me. People of VSB, what are you thoughts on the Jeremy Lin phenomenon? Do you think he’ll be a short-lived flash in the pan, or do you see his success continuing?

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

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Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for and EBONY Magazine. And a founding editor for 1839. And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at Or don't. Whatever.

  • Iamnotakata

    I heart Jeremy Lin and that guy can hoop…forget all the skeptics…yes he’s a little rough around the edges and def. needs some fine tuning but after a few more games and more practice. And some correction with his defense and turn overs, he’s going to be linstoppable! yes I made that word up lol

  • No joke about an hour ago, my mother called and said “Who is that oriental kid that’s been killing Kobe?” Mind you the only thing she knows about the NBA was from back when the Blazers were champions or anything that is negative towards Kobe Bryant. lol

  • To elaborate on #4 – I noticed that even though Tim Tebow has been waving his virginity flag, people are quick to try to link him to some model, female athlete, etc (side note: why is Kim Kardashian re-taping segments of Keeping up with Khlamydia to include her having weekly Bible study in order to attract Tebow? I just…) But Jeremy Lin seems to fall into that sexless Asian guy stereotype. No one’s said he’s good looking or, ‘now that you’re famous, you should try to holla at…’

  • Stanley

    Are you insane????

  • #5 “He can really ball” without being followed by “for an Asian/Harvard guy/undrafted player”

  • Justmetheguy

    Jeremy Lin is the epitome of the perfect storm. All those things you mentioned, combined with being 6’3 as a point guard allow him to show people just how little separates the stars from the barely on the roster guys. Opportunity as well as situation. He could’ve just as easily been a d-league player as we speak, but the PERFECT opportunity arose for him and he took FULL advantage of it. I’m happy for him. He’s hard to hate, Tebow on the other hand is just hard to be indifferent about smh

  • DQ

    I should have known you would have found a way to work this Kryie Irving into this discussion. And let’s give him credit, he is doing well for a 19 year old.

    Just a point of reference, that same John Wall you spoke of averaged almost twice as many assists and steals his Rookie season as Kyrie is now, while scoring a comparable amount of points.

  • demondog06

    “But, with Jeremy Lin, Kyrie Irving (who I told y’all about two years ago), and Ricky Rubio, you have a trio of new to the NBA point guards; natural born basketball players who are succeeding despite not being world-class athletes.”

    so no mention of Brandon knight!? sir i challenge you to a duel….
    *pimp slaps the champ across the bottom lip with leather glove*


  • Justmetheguy

    ” Hmm. Who could I possibly be talking about? I’ll give you one hint: They went to the same school. ”

    lol, you’re the first one I’ve heard compare him to Barack Obama. Good parallel. Creative to take it to a figure outside of sports. His story reminds me of Victor Cruz, his hype reminds me of Tebow, his game is a cross between Nash and Deron Williams, and the way his stats cover up his turnovers reminds me of Cam Newton. I feel where you’re coming from on point guards that are basketball players first. I’m just glad to see the return of the point guard. It needs to be almost as important to teams as the QB is to an NFL team. (Clearly a former point guard is speaking here lol) It’ll never be as valuable as a QB, but I’m glad that the Lakers lack of a pg (or any semblance of defense) got them swept last year. I feel the same way about NFL teams with mediocre or bad defenses winning super bowls. It just doesn’t sit well with me lol

    Btw Champ (or anybody with a valid opinion) who’s your top 5 in order as far as NBA point guards go?

  • Justmetheguy

    I need to see both Irving and Wall play more, but as of right now Irving strikes me as more of a fluid and natural basketball player. He’s definitely lightyears ahead of him as a scorer, just like Wall’s leaps and bounds more athletic, but DQ made a good point about the assists and steals. I rarely see Irving distributing the rock in his highlights lol
    He’s a stone cold assassin when it comes to scoring tho. That jumper is as close to automatic as you can get coming off the dribble

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