The esteemed Mr. Trey Kerby recently asked me to write a piece on Carmelo Anthony. And it makes sense. I’m a very melodramatic Knicks fan and Carmelo is the centerpiece of my favorite team. Clearly, this should have been easy for me.

But I spent about a week wracking my brain trying to figure out what I could say about Melo that hasn’t been said. He’s a fantastic scorer. His commitment to defense is questionable. He seems to mess with both the flow of the offense as well as other peoples’ confidence within the offense. He’s an insanely cool person. Attending the game where Gallo returned to the Garden and outplayed him was a panic-inducing knife twist of an experience that made me question almost everything about my life. I once was an actor in a commercial where I played an obsessive stalker-y fan of his and he accurately gauged that I was indeed an obsessive stalker-y fan of his and had his guard up around me the whole time. And that’s when he was still with the Nuggets. (Side note: I did another commercial as part of this series with Paul Pierce, who was a nice guy but scolded me for making fun of Smush Parker.)

Then the basketball gods intervened and Jeremy Lin happened. He fucking happened.

Trey asked me to divert my attention from Carmelo to Lin and I was more than happy to do so, because I don’t know if you’ve heard this, but at the time of this writing Jeremy Lin has had TWO good games in a row. In New York, that means he is the savior who has descended from Heaven to save the Knicks from anything ranging from D’Antoni’s horrific coaching, Toney Douglas’s downfall, or the existence of Jared Jeffries. He’s had two full games of impressive stat lines and moments where he’s demonstrated an ability to run an offense to a passable degree. And these two games have exposed how the minds of Knicks fans work. In the New York media/blogosphere, Jeremy Lin’s two good games in a row are miraculous game-changer turning points in our season on par with the following:

  • The French agreeing to help the Colonials during the American Revolution.
  • The Elves showing up last minute to help fight at Helm’s Deep in the movie version of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
  • Jay Z inexplicably rapping over Linkin Park songs and making otherwise rational people think for just a nanosecond that Linkin Park was catchy.

I’m able to step back from my Knicks fandom long enough to note our ridiculousness regarding our reaction to Lin, but I’m also a full-on fanboy buying into it. Lin’s two games in a row have made Knicks fans collectively forget that he has never played well at the professional level outside of this week, he’s physically unimpressive to a degree that one has to wonder how many games in a row he can play, and most remarkable of all, that he brings up Christianity within the first 10 seconds of every interview he’s ever done in a way that New Yorkers would usually distrust immediately.

My own devotion to the cult of Lin can best be captured via this transcript of a Facebook conversation I had with my buddy Michael Kayne at roughly 2:30 AM last night. He’s a fellow Knicks lifer. I signed on, saw his name in my chat box, and didn’t say hello. This is the entirety of our conversation, with caps lock retained for accuracy.

ME:
LIN
LION
LINSANITY
#LINNING

MICHAEL:
SHAOLIN
LIN DIESEL

ME:
LINAMENT

MICHAEL:
JUNIOR LINTS

ME:
NEXT OF LIN
SAUSAGE LIN-K

MICHAEL:
LINONA RYDER

ME:
RIN TIN LIN

MICHAEL:
ADVENTURES OF LINTIN

ME:
LINDERELLA

MICHAEL:
LIN AND JUICE

ME:
THE LIN DOCTORS

MICHAEL:
LORETTA LIN

ME:
YOU CAN HEAR A LIN DROP

MICHAEL:
SEVEN DEADLY LINS

Then, he signed off. As did I. And I went to bed smiling, knowing that somehow the Knicks won a game this year with both Amar’e and Carmelo out, and Tyson Chandler in foul trouble the whole time. Right now, I can legitimately say that if I saw Jeremy Lin walking down the streets of New York, I would start crying and screaming like he was The Beatles and I was a pre-teen female baby boomer

In writing this, I am taking the time to remind myself of a few things — first off, no wonder players want to play in New York. If you have two good games in your life at Madison Square Garden, you can become a national trending topic on Twitter. I would imagine that superstar level players see a kid like Lin get this kind of attention and know they are one trade away from a world of endless endorsement deals and non-stop sex with models and reality TV personalities.

But also, let’s not forget that just a few short weeks ago, a certain savior named Iman Shumpert arrived. He was able to get to the basket, but he didn’t even know how to finish a shot. Despite multiple shanked dunks, he was just able to get to the rim, which was such a blessing that there was quickly a feature written about him in the New York Times.  A few quiet weeks later, and how much have we heard about the Shump lately?

Let’s see what happens when Lin has two bad games in a row. As opposed to all of the love, hype, and adulation right now, I’m sure New Yorkers will be ready to curse the word Lin, or at least largely forget about him as they have other recent newbie saviors such as the aforementioned Shumpert and a certain Landry Fields. Those two went from being right in the thick of the New York hype machine to firmly in its crosshairs. I have to imagine that they get judged, criticized, and booed for mistakes on their home court far worse than any player of their experience and stature would in most other markets. In Lin’s case, a few bad games will mean endless bitching that he scored himself a guaranteed contract, constant articles about how the Knicks employ a glorified D-leaguer, a ton of “Shut the fuck up about God already”s yelled at HD TV screens, and a whole lot of very subtle racism. New York Knicks basketball –- bad enough that you’ll definitely get playing time, scrutinized enough that you will never be allowed to blossom as a player or young man!

The Lin experience also reiterates to me a fact that I’ve long known and long refused to admit: Knicks fans are perhaps the most annoying of all despicable New York sports fans. We’re as cocky as Yankee fans without the winning pedigree to make it as fun to hate us. We’re simultaneously as sad sack-y as Mets fans despite the fact that we now have marquee players and our home court is perhaps the greatest sports venue in America. We’re as obnoxious on the streets of New York as Rangers fans, as meathead-y as Giants fans, and have as much tacky and cultish devotion to our team as Jets fans.

On top of all that, we give our players no foundation to stand on. Win and they’ll hear the cheers out on Seventh Avenue. Lose and we’ll boo you and your mother out of the goddamn Garden. No middle ground. No patience.

So welcome, Jeremy Lin! As a Knicks fan, I’m glad to have you. You have turned things around and I trust there will be no speed bumps in this process of you saving basketball in the city most known for it. As a compassionate human being, I can only say enjoy being New York’s hero as long as you can, and for your sanity’s sake, I hope you keep on Linning.

Comments (23)

  1. All I do is Lin Lin Lin no matter what, got money on my mind I can never get enough, and every time I step up in the building everybody’s hands go up – and they stay there…

  2. This was awesome. So was Big Lake.

  3. Great piece. You are spot on about the Knicks fans and I appreciate that you have at least some objectivity to recognize it. I lived in NYC for 10 years and a lot of my friends were Knicks fans. What blew me away the most was the cocky part. But it was even beyond cocky to a point that it was kind of sad. These were people who were crowing about the coming of Isaiah and Marbury, assured they would bring a championship. Bizarrely unrealistic and these were people who knew basketball. I find it puzzling to this day.

  4. “Knicks fans are perhaps the most annoying of all despicable New York sports fans” that’s saying a lot, as New York sports fans are the most annoying of all sports fans in North America.

    I’d still pick you over Jets fans though. Man, fuck the Jets.

  5. I don’t know what Knicks fans you talk to, but I don’t remember anyone who thought Isaiah and Marbury were anything but a huge waste of time. for real, yo.

    Knicks fans are currently missing out on the Jeff Lin experience because of the Time Warner / MSG feud. The only way to watch them is at bars with satellite hookups…The good part of this is that MSG has been throwing Knicks viewing parties at bars all over town, and there’s usually free sliders and drink specials and sometimes John Starks.

    Anyway – I like Lin – he’s young and his ability to break a defense all the way down to the charge arc is fantastic, reminiscent of Nash. I hope he plays with fire no matter who he’s against – then he’ll be a real knick.

    and f u for calling knicks fans cocky.

  6. I agree. Being a Knicks fan, I’ve observed that too many Knicks fans, especially those in the Garden, tend to be sort of manic depressive- when things are good, they’re on the moon, when things get bad, its the worst thing ever. They need to chill a little, be more even keel, maybe talk about their childhood, etc. I’ve always loved the passion, though. Good and bad, I guess.

    About Lin, though- he won’t match this production for the rest of the season, but if he just runs the offense he will make a difference. Thats the difference between him and Shump/Fields- if he can smooth out the offense and get guys in position, thats a plus for NY. HE won’t get 25 and 8 or something- I don’t think a bubble NBA guy busted out like that two games in a row, ever- but he doesn’t have to. The offense needed some direction all year. Savior? No, but I could see him being a plus, if not an earth-shattering one.

  7. Giants fans are the worst.
    also,
    Linndrum
    MPC-17.

  8. I hate Jeremy Lin hype…

  9. Remember the beginning of the season when crowd was chanting “Iman Shumpert”? Season before the darling of the moment was Landry Fields. The crowd at New York got another jester.

  10. Nice piece. I would just like to say that there is (and will be) nothing subtle about the racism – it’s pretty overt. Linsanity, indeed.

  11. Knick fans are just desperate to win again, within two years we will probably see.a homeless person suited up in those one of those ugly jerseys

  12. I’m slightly concerned he’s going to be penciled in as the eastern conference starter for the next 10 all star games based on the well documented ‘Yao’ effect… if he ever gets on the ballot it’s all over

    • Lin isn’t Chinese though, he’s American-Taiwanese. He will get the masses of Asian-American voters though, but it’s nowhere near as much as actual Chinese players though.

  13. Many thought linception was a myth

  14. What your post omits is the fact that the kid knows how to play, meaning he can read the court. He’s not doing anything that isn’t sustainable – drives to the rim, passing to the open man if he can’t get there. That’s not something the defense takes away from you. I’ll admit, he does favor driving to the right. So when teams force him left, he gives up the ball. That’s something to work on. Til then, all we do is Lin.

  15. Show-Lin will prevail and MSG will be known as The Show-Lin Temple.

  16. There’s no “i” in “Lin!”

  17. AdrenaLIN!! But seriously, he’s from Harvard….he’s prolly smarter than D’antoni.

  18. Jay-Z and LINkin Park. I see what you did there, Chris.

  19. @Fave – nice catch!

    Nothing wrong with a moment of fame. Not everyone is gonna be a star!

    That said, Lin is playing out of his mind, it’s invigorating.

  20. He’s Bi-Linning.

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