Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Jeremy Lin: A Less Annoying Chinese Tim Tebow

I've been to playoff games, all-star games, games vs. the Lakers and Celtics and other great teams, as well as all types of late season important basketball contests at Madison Square Garden. And, somehow, an early February game between a 9 and 15 Knicks team without Amare Stoudemire and (for most of the game) Carmelo Anthony and a Utah team led by Raja Bell and Al Jefferson that's 2 and 5 on the road for the season ended up being one of the top 5 most exciting, fun games I've ever witnessed. And it wasn't just because the Super Bowl champs were positioned strategically around the court to maximize the good vibes like the Garden always does with the Giants, but because of a short Chinese guy from Harvard named Jeremy Lin. I had such a blast yelling MVP for a guy who before this weekend had a season high of 7 points that I came home and watched the "Knicks in 60" replay while I ate my Honey Bunches of Oats. You hear the announcers saying stuff like "his spirit just lifts the team" and the crowd loves "everything he does" and how after the ball ended up in his hands off a lucky bounce for the game clinching 3 in the final 2 minutes Clyde Frazier said "some things are just meant to be" and I could only think of one comparison. A marginally talented replacement player who makes up for offensive deficiencies with uncanny toughness, deceptive quickness and great finishing who's lifted a losing team out of the doldrums through an infectious spirit that's already developed a fan base and demonstrated the ability to attract casual fans and practically a laughable cult following. Not to mention I saw at least 5 or 6 cheaply made tshirts dedicated to him tonight in the crowd. Yeah, he's the Chinese Tim Tebow.

Of course we're talking about a two game sample here. Lin could finish the rest of the season averaging 4 points and find himself riding the bench or playing in the D-League by the end of April, or could be replaced by Baron Davis (if he ever puts on shorts again which is looking less and less likely with every missed practice), but it's been a good weekend to be an Asian Knicks fan. The crowds at MSG are usually pretty subdued for regular season games that don't involve guys like Kobe or LeBron at least until the 4th quarter, but something weird happens when Lin is in the game. Every move he makes is cheered wildly by the crowd, there's an audible anticipation every time he goes to the hoop. I imagine this is a lot like how Greg Oden was treated by the Blazers fans as Bill Simmons talks about. The guy can do no wrong. Jesus knows the unwarranted hype for Tebow was beyond annoying, but Lin is a far less divisive type of dude, unless you hate Asians I guess. He does have actual point guard skills though and can at least run a simple pick and roll with Chandler, which is more than we can say about the other out of position shooting guards and forwards who were bringing the ball up previously. But that's not all that is great about Linning time. It sounds real corny, but he shares with Tebow that ability to lift a team just by showing up on the court. Take a look at the video below of all of his points and most of his assists. Grown men are giggling like little girls (including the Knicks bench and a couple Giants players) slapping fives and pumping their fists. People have their hands on their heads and their mouths wide open like they just witnessed a miracle. And everyone is smiling from ear to ear. When's the last time that happened at the Garden? Here's a sample of some of the giddy 327 comments on the Knicks Facebook page last night after the game (spelling and grammatical errors included):

Jeremy!!! keep ballin hard with wisdom and with passion bro... to shine the glory of the Gospel ^_^
and :

Jeremy Lin makes me believe impossible.
let's not forget:

May be the missing piece of the puzzle
and of course:

林 加油 我们华人都支持你

Jeremy might be a born again Christian like Tebow as well but that will always come second to him being an Asian American- the first to ever play in the NBA. Tebow is another blue eyed blond haired white person who is also an outspoken Christian, which totally dominates his narrative. Lin is the little Asian guy that could, his religious beliefs aren't important to anyone. It's sort of part of being Asian that you grow to accept racist jokes (it doesn't bother me) and Carmelo's bow seems to be something like that, but I'm hoping it can become the new "Tebowing". However long the love fest lasts, at least we have something exciting to wake us up from this miserable season. He's making all of us believe impossible for at least a weekend. Behold the greatness if you haven't already in the video below:

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