(Crosspost with Modi's PopSspot -- check it out)
As a passionate die-hard Knicks fan starving for a few crumbs ever since Patrick left the Garden, I am way too close to Linsanity to go deep into the multitude of powerful socio-cultural narratives sweeping sports nation. For that, please see Jay Caspian Kang’s The Lives of Others (from 2010), Jamilah King’s “The Subtle Bigotry…”, Andrew Leonard’s Social Media Fast Break, Dave Zirin’s Feel the Linsanity, Timothy Dalrymple’s The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations, and David Leonard’s Tebow, Lin, and The Religiosity of Sportsand The Persistence of Racial Stereotypes (hat tip on links).
The impact of Lin’s inspiration and stereotype-breaking also cannot be overstated: For Bryan Chu “Jeremy is One of Us”; for Michael Luo, Lin embodies “a surreal Jackie Robinson-like moment”; and Danny Chau was “overwhelmed with pride and unfiltered elation”.
Somewhere amidst this international discussion lies a 23 year-old basketball player, and when an ESPN poll seriously asks :“Is Jeremy Lin the Best Point Guard in the NBA?”, then it’s time to call time-out.
For hardcore Knick fans, it’s time to extract the sane from Linsanity. What’s hoops, what’s hype, and why some of us are going crazy. Let’s start with six questions:
1) Q: IS JEREMY LIN FOR REAL?
Forget “Asian-American’, “Harvard”, and “undrafted”. Forget that it has only been five games… or that they were against mostly bad teams… or that they were mostly home games (note: Wizards game counts as a home game – trust me, I was there)…
Skill is skill.
Here is a nice summary of Lin’s skills:
“Jeremy Lin… is sweet, sweet, sweet. … Lin was [John] Wall’s equal if not better… Lin has a very nice handle… and he is able to split defenders and get into the paint with great quickness. Not only can Lin finish, but his vision and ability to pass in traffic is pure… . Nice, nice, nice… This undrafted kid better get a contract. HEY D’Antoni. Oh never-mind.”
This plea for Mike D’Antoni to pick up Lin was written back in 2010 by “LIVESINEWJERSEY” at the excellent Knicks Fanatics Blog. To go back even further, “Poor Man’s Commish” from the great blog Golden State of Mind was repeatedly touting Lin’s skills back in 2009:
“I’m unequivocally confident that [Lin] will not only make it, but be an impact player.” [And in new post]…
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Jeremy Lin is a bonafide First Round NBA draft pick… The detractors will either be discounting him because he is Asian and they have never seen an Asian as good as him, because they haven’t seen him play, and because of the most basic human element: fear of the unknown.”
What did these unpaid “bloggers” see that well-paid scouts and GM’s could not?
They only saw his skill.
And skill is skill.
2) Q: ARE LIN’S STATS FOR REAL?
A: 80% REAL; 20% “The Mike Spike”
Any penetrating point guard playing in coach Mike D’Antoni’s system gets a 20-25% stat inflation: “the Mike Spike”. It happened to Steve Nash after he left Dallas , and it also happened last year with Raymond Felton who was suddenly being touted as a Knicks all-star. The key word is “penetrating” point guard. Under D’Antoni’s sytem, Felton becomes more valuable than a superior Chauncey Billups.
In Mike’s “seven seconds or less” offense, Felton goes from “solid” to borderline all-star, Nash goes from borderline all-star to Hall-of-Famer, and a guy like Chris Paul would rule planet earth.
In this excellent analysis, “O&B” from Knicks Fanatics explains D’Antoni’s system and the limitations of his coaching “one-trick pony” when his players don’t fit.
3) Q: ARE LIN’s NBA COMPARISONS REAL?
A: SOME COULD ONE DAY BE REAL, BUT PLEASE STOP!
More than two years ago, Poor Man’s Commish called Lin “The New Steve Nash”, and that has been the most popular NBA comparison in the last week. Similarities include the D’Antoni connection, Lin’s penchant for going in the paint while holding his dribble, and Lin’s ability to get bumped and knock down off-balance shots at angles that kinda, sorta, look like Nash.
Ready, set, breathe!
If we are going to unfairly entertain hall-of-fame point guards, Lin is more Isiah than Nash. When his team need it most, Lin won’t hesitate to take over the game as an aggressive scorer. That’s just not Nash.
In my dreams I see Isiah, and on the low end I see Devin Harris. But put a gun to my head, and I see Tony Parker, but a better passer. While that is also terribly unfair, it’s tame in the great wide world of Linsanity.
4) Q: IS LINSANITY THE NEW TEBOWMANIA?
A: NOT REAL.
The off-court parallels, similar storylines , and winning streaks against bad teams make the connection irresistible. Just one problem:
Lin is legit, and Tim is not.
Tebowmania lacks a foundation for long-term success (read: 46.5% completion rate). That may be because Tebow became an NFL starter due to his privileges – the exact opposite of Lin’s story.
Tim is disco, Lin is hip-hop, and three years from now expect only Lin to remain a starter at his current position.
5) Q: DOES JEREMY REPRESENT A “LINDERELLA STORY”?
A: NOT REAL.
“Players don’t come out of nowhere” – Kobe Bryant.
“If he can play, then he can play” — Lebron James
Kobe is right. Basketball is not baseball. Lin has greater or equal size (6’3”, 200) for a point guard than all-stars Chris Paul (6’0, 175), Rajon Rondo, Steve Nash, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, and Tony Parker. And if he is quick enough to blow by the speedy John Wall, then few tests remain .
In reality, Lin represents the denial of opportunity based on subconscious stereotyping and discrimination at every level since high school. But that storyline is a tad less romantic than the “Linderella” myth. Lin’s stereotype-breaking is something everyone could love, but if you strictly want a basketball underdog, then cheer for Nate Robinson.
6) Q: SO JUST HOW REAL IS LINSANITY FOR KNICK FANS?
50% STEAK TO A STARVING FAN.
Before fan Linsanity came coach insanity.
This might be impossible for other fans to comprehend, but the Knicks have played without a point guard all season . This is simply unheard of for an NBA team. It’s not only that Knick fans haven’t seen dazzling spin moves, killer cross-overs, or alley-oops…
we haven’t seen a pick and roll!
Please keep this in mind the next time you see some of us hugging and slobbering in the stands over Lin’s next well-timed bounce pass.
As a regular at Knicks Fanatics Blog live game chats, most of us have been pleading with D’Antoni to “give the kid a chance” since a few days after Lin was signed (note: except Peaceman!). No, not because anyone was predicting “Linsanity”, but because he was our only true point guard! 
In absence of a penetrating point guard, D’Antoni is simply a terrible coach. “Dump it into Melo” was the only play being called, but that’s not Carmelo Anthony’s fault . Melo led the Knicks in assists (4.2), and was the only reason the Knicks won as many games as they did.
Sure it was ugly, but the only thing more unwatchable was when Melo wasn’t on the floor. But that’s not Toney Douglass and Iman Shumpert’s fault that their coach asked them to play a brand new position. That is all on Mike D’Antoni.
After more than a month of this madness, Chris Duhon flashbacks were morphing into Chris Paul highlights… And keep in mind that all this came after Knick fans haven’t won a playoff series since the criminally underappreciated Patrick Ewing advanced the Knicks in the playoffs for eight consecutive years. A 1990′s sense of entitlement followed by 12 years of misery followed by 24 games without any real set plays.
And that’s right when Jeremy Lin walked through that door.
And the rest is Linsanity.
 After Nash left The Dallas Mavericks for The Phoenix Suns “Seven Seconds or Less” system, his stats shot up. After D’Antoni left and Phoenix’s system was replaced by Terry Porter’s half-court system to accommodate Shaquille O’neal, Nash’s stats temporarily. The next year nash’s stats returned as new coach Alvin Gentry reinstituted the up-tempo system of years past. Rinse and repeat for Raymond Felton. Phoenix’s system was replaced by Terry Porter’s half-court system to accommodate Shaquille O’neal, Nash’s stats temporarily. The next year Nash’s stats returned as new coach Alvin Gentry reinstituted the up-tempo system of years past. Rinse and repeat for Raymond Felton.
 Judging from the long-armed Ricky Rubio’s defensive success Saturday against Lin, the guess here is that Rajon Rondo will give Lin the most trouble.
 No, the fossil formerly known as Mike Bibby does not count as a point guard.
 After playing only seven minutes in the first half in the February 3rd loss to the Celtics, it was clear that the offense fundamentally changed with Lin (despite 0-3 shooting), that few at Knicks Fanatics Blog could understand why D’Antoni benched him in the second half. There were calls to “Free Jeremy Lin” and even Knick announcer Mike Breen was perplexed.
 Despite Melo’s effusive sideline cheering for Lin, a troubling media narrative is already emerging casting Lin as “good guy” and Melo as “the villain” which will undoubtedly remain a storyline driven by the New York tabloids. But that’s for another article.
Thanks fellas. Oh c'mon Peace! Give Lves the props he so richly deserves. Lives was asking D'Antoni to pick him up TWO years ago and in his "oh, nevermind" comment basically forshadowed D'Antoni letting him rot on the bench all year. He didn't just call out Lin's skill, but D'Antoni's blind spot as well. Give it up to LIVES!
Agree with O&B on Maywaether. I get Knickfansanity, Asian pride, and enjoying the breaking of stereotypes, but that doesn't explain the full scope of Linsanity
This is tturning into something uglier right before our eyes, and instead of enjoying Lin for his accomplishment, the media is slowly turnig him into the "black man antidote" while making "melo" the new villain when he has been nothing but supportive all along.
To Lin's great credit, he is deflecting this narrative, but the media machine is bigger than Jeremy. This subjectwill also be my next article.
And one more thing: PEACE, GIVE IT UP TO LIVES! :-)
Unbeaten boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. has posted a swipe at Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin on Twitter.
Mayweather posted Monday: “Jeremy Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he’s Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don’t get the same praise.”
I love reading the folks on this blog. So smart -- so much in love with the game. Next: "KnickFanaticsanity"
I agree with Prince, damn good piece. Man thanks for giving us another of those Modi Joints. Nice.
I love "Linsanity" though because it further emphasizes how wrong we can be with our prejudices. No lie, skill is freaking skill. However this kid not only has skill but he has that immeasurable intangible, heart. Who can really tell how good he can be. One thing that should be fairly certain is that, health willing, the more experience he gets, the better he should be as a point guard. And you hit the nail on the head: a penetrating point guard is a special breed. WIth all due respect to Nash, this kids game is not Nash's game. This dude is a more physical orchestrator and a much more aggressive defender. He is not better than Nash, he is simply different, old school. Isiah Thomas comes to mind. I think, despite his size, that he is more like Magic Johnson in how he controls the pace of the game. (I don't say he is as good as these players, just that his game is more similar to theirs than Nash's)
There is another point guard he reminds me of and I can't think of his name. It's a point guard who is very willing to penetrate and end up on his ass, but also equally capable of dishing and running the break. Who is it? Is it Tiny Nate or is it Stephon Marbury or is it . . .
Modi: Good read, well researched and great links--especially the stuff on Lin's media impact, the American dream motif, and its meaning to the Asian community. I think Lin is for real and the skill set is solid and will likely improve. I am pleased that he talks team but I am more impressed by his determination to succeed. Even if he only scores 10 - 12 points per game and gets 7 - 8 assists, that is far more than the Knicks were getting from anyone else who played the point this season. Stat and Melo's return will only enhance the kid's options and, in all likelihood, increase his number of assists. True, I want to be upbeat and hopeful, but there is a foundation upon which to build and be positive. LGK
Lets not overlook FACTS here.
1. LivesinNewJerseylovesLIN, is a fellow Ivy leaguer .. so hast his prediction by more than what he blew with saying Brandon Jennings was not that good.
2. When I was in Grade School, I wanted to trade places with my hero.
My hero was the best. He was my idea of Manhood. He was me in my mind.
I had his posters upon what poor ass walls afforded me. I wanted to dress like him, walk like him, virtually be him. I did not see him as anything but what I wanted to be. I LOVED Bruce Lee and did not see he was Asian.. but a Man who
I wanted to be just like.
3. Jeremy LIN and his Hoop game does not bring my soul to "WOW." Because
he does not , does that mean I must be racist because he's Asian? Hardly.
IMO.. he's a Good to slightly above average PG.... that the knicks sorely lacked.
Enter My Dragon!
Great Read MODI
Glad to read one of your gems on the KFB blogsite. The clearest thing that comes across to me is that the greats know great, game knows game and neither Kobe nor Lebron held punches about that. Many others love Linderella out of shear deprivation and desperation. You are right that Lin is the right point guard in the right time at the right place with Mike D'Antoni's system. Not D'Antoni mind you. Because a true offensive genius would have adapted to his personnel in the interim absence of a point guard. But then again, Mike is so stupid he stumbled across the right guy for the job because the sun was bound to find his blind ass some day. Then again Lin was almost cut and the screams by Live, you or I almost fell on death ears. Kudos! Nice to cut through the subconscious racism brewing underneath the euphoric ferment of Linsanity. My title for the Melo villain, Lin angel narrative would reference the Duke v. Michigan narrative. Clearly Melo is being set up as all that we percieve as bad about the sport and all the subconscious race baiting abundant therein in. Yet all that is "bad" about the sport and those "ghetto" ballers is just the opposite side of the coin that blinders on all too many to the truth of Lin's ability.
@MODI ROFLMAO. Thanks, but I must admit that Peace gives me more props than you'll ever know which is why I really love you guys. Hey it's valentines day. LOL!
" the media is slowly turnig him into the "black man antidote" while making "melo" the new villain when he has been nothing but supportive all along."
Can't wait to see that article Modi. However, show me the archives
about Lin.. I don't remember that thread!
@Peaceman He's sorta right. If he were black it wouldn't be such a huge story. That part is sad. the media are making fools of themselves with the coverage. Is that to make up for the glass cieling. Howard Beck, who I admire alot, at one time listed Lin as just more of the Knicks subpar supporting cast and reserves. Lives, Modi and I were screaming for the kid to get PT in that interim. Funny that us three aren't playing that media circus card, just exploring the racial undertones and synchronicity of the event. Let's go Knicks and KFB.
@Jlin1 Welcome JLiin1
@Jlin1 Welcome JLin
@Peaceman Ha Ha Ha. Since when do you start repeating fiction from Statesman. Modi found the link (which I would never have taken the time to find), now I dare anyone find the link where I said Jennings was not that good. I did say his shot was atrocious which it was at the time, but I never said he wasn't very good In fact I said the exact opposite and more, most of which I stand by:
"OMG. WOW. Brandon Jennings has mad, mad skills. Viewing most of the videotapes is an absolute pleasure. Some of the film makes me feel even worse that I am not recommending him for lottery draft position because this is one analysis that could really come back to bite me. Sometimes GMs and Incidental GMs get it wrong. But, I’ve got to go with my gut — what I see, what I know and what I feel. The bottom line is that there is no way (as Knick GM) I could pick Brandon Jennings over Stephen Curry (and others) in the 2009 draft. (If you look closely at the Europe videotapes, most of you will see why.)"
I also wrote:
I have looked at all of the available tape several times over and I am certain that it would be a mistake for Brandon to become a New York Knick. He would be better suited for a stable veteran environment where he can be brought along slowly and without the added pressure of the Big Apple and some of their rotten fans. . . .Brandon Jennings may eventually prove that he is worthy of the hype, but for now, IGM believes it is best to catch this pick on the rebound, at the end of a three year contract with his first NBA team. Those who like the kid should wish him the best and hope that he is picked up by an organization that will give him the attention and court time — even in the Developmental League — that he needs to realize his potential. Otherwise, he will just be more fodder for the NBA mill.
Nothing I said about Jennings was incorrect. ( I favored Ty Lawson, Stephon Curry and DeMar Rozan over Flynn and Jennings for the New York organization. I still think is was a correct analysis and no one can prove me wrong since we picked up neither, but anyone with common sense knows that we probably would have screwed up Brandon Jennings development.
So let's get it right. I may be wrong on point guards once or twice every twenty years, but I doubt it. LOL!!!
@Peaceman I don't want to have any thing to do with that dragon. I'm a Puma. Lin is good. Great? Verdict is still out. But he is miles ahead of the Douglas an Bibby experiments at point gaurd. Heck D'Anton's offensive genuis didn't save the Knicks this season, he almost killed Melo, like he killed Douggie for asking him to do what he is not (a point guard) Lin came in the Knicks of time but that is so much serendipity and maybe some karma. My thread above explains how.
@Peaceman no egregious archives, but it is unfolding and putting the narrative in place before a game is played. more coming in article peace
@Orange_and_Blue@Peaceman I don't know guys; I think if he was a black man from Harvard who came off the bench IN NEW YORK and was undrafted and had four straight winning games without Melo and Stat, he would get a little more pub than average, but he certainly would not get the pub that Lin has. Of course a lot of it is racial simply because the circumstances of his rise has a racial element.
I am more stunned by listening to Alan Hahn talk about Lin with the same incredulity that one might have for the Negroid Mark Spitz.
I do however agree that Lin is handling it all with aplomb. He is just a very likable and cool customer regardless of the racial stuff.