Wednesday, March 7, 2012
The Death of Linsanity
Remember around this time last year when bad boy actor Charlie Sheen took over the world for about a month? His every ridiculous comment or self destructive move was blogged and tweeted about? We couldn't get enough, there was even a catchphrase and a comedy tour. Seems like a million years ago right? Eventually, the Sheen mania died down when we all realized he wasn't really going to die live on television, he went back to being a B level actor, and sobered up. Once the Sheen roast happened on Comedy Central, we all got back to caring about other stuff. I thought about this during the Knicks game the other day when they showed one of those Direct TV commercials where the narrator talks about the increasingly bizarre turns your life will take if you don't subscribe to Direct TV, this one ends with a guy reenacting scenes from Platoon with Charlie Sheen ("Don't reenact scenes from Platoon with Charlie Sheen. Get Direct TV"). Something that would have seemed dangerously insane and hilarious a year ago but now seemed like a reference as dated as the movie Platoon itself. And we're probably going to look back at that 3 week Linsanity stretch the same way a year from now. Whereas Sportscenter dedicated it's entire program to Lin before the Knicks 7th straight win against Sacramento exactly 3 weeks ago, now the Knicks Mavs highlights were relegated to the 15 minute mark after Peyton Manning news, the Big East tournament, the Saints bounty scandal and a Heat blowout over the Nets. The back page of the Daily News this morning was a Jets player saying they need to sign Manning. The Knicks game didn't even appear in the sports pages until after Manning, Mets and Yankees spring training recaps and even last night's St. John's loss of all things. To quote Prop Joe, Linsanity is officially a cadaverous motherfucker. How'd it die as fast as it came to life? Besides being the natural progression of wild phenomenons in the Twitter age, there are a few reasons.
First of all, the surprise factor has totally worn off. It's like meeting a new girl. In the beginning it's exciting and new, you can't get enough, but usually within a month you start looking at new prospects. The Asian kid from Harvard dominating games was shocking, but now he's just another guy in shorts. Secondly, the rest of the league has caught on to Lin's tricks. While in the first couple weeks, he was nearly unstoppable driving to the hoop, finishing at the basket with ease, recently when he makes a move towards the basket, teams either block his shot, knock the ball away from behind (as Mr. D pointed out, Lin has patented the lose the ball in the lane and then look at the ref for a foul move) or force him dead in his tracks where he's forced to pivot and shoot fadeaways or try a standstill layup (not a great shot in basketball). During Linsanity, every big shot he took seemed to go in, including the 3's over Dirk, vs. the Lakers, and the game winner against the Raptors that were probably his signature shots of the run, now he can't buy a basket in the clutch. It's gotten so bad that there's been talk of Baron Davis actually finishing games. Can you imagine Baron's name even being in the same sentence as Lin's two weeks ago unless it was "I can't believe we actually thought Baron Davis was going to be our savior before Jeremy Lin"? The third factor in Linsanity's untimely demise were factors beyond anyone's control, well, besides the NBA schedulemakers that is. The combination of the Knicks' brutal lineup of opponents over these past couple weeks and the long lay-off of the all star break has cooled Linsanity considerably. That feel good 7 game winning streak came against some of the worst teams in the league, a 500 Minnesota team, and the Lakers and Jazz who are two of the worst teams in the league on the road. Now they're playing the big boys and it's been ugly. Opposing point guards are obviously fed up with the hype and are putting up their best numbers of the season (in Jason Kidd's and Deron William's case) or Wilt Chamberlain numbers (in Rondo's case) If the Knicks had somehow won the game in Miami before the AS break, then the mania would have only grown for a week. Instead, Lin laid an egg and Linsanity was left to die a slow death. Subpar to awful games over the past week to mostly good competition have only been the nails in the coffin. And yes, all our worst fears about Carmelo and Amare meshing their talents with Lin seem to have come true. Lin's numbers were expected to drop with the return of the Knick's original stars as his attempts went down. But nobody expected his assists to also go down.
This isn't to say that Jeremy Lin's career or even his marketability are dead. He's hit the expected bumps in the road that any first or second year player would hit, never mind a guy who was undrafted and hadn't played practically at all his first season and a half in the league. And he'll still sell t-shirts, jerseys and whatever sneaker Nike is reportedly releasing, particularly to Asians, of which there are a lot of in the world if you didn't know. But the ridiculous hype and chaos that surrounded every little thing Lin did is over, and for that I guess we should be thankful. Now, he's not a symbol of the American dream, or a Hollywood story come to life or whatever, he's just a decent point guard on a mediocre, underachieving basketball team. And if the Knicks don't learn how to beat good teams on the road and develop some team chemistry soon, Linsanity will be looked back on as nothing more than a cruel tease that momentarily brightened another dark season at the Garden. RIP Linsanity.