Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lin is Gone. Get Over It.

I guess we should have seen this coming. Everything about Linsanity is ridiculous. Not so much that he himself is ridiculous (he's actually a very normal 23 year old Asian dude) but everything surrounding him sure is. The hype around his arrival as an NBA star in February was crazy so of course the same should apply to his departure. Since the official announcement that James Dolan gave a forlorn thumbs down to America's sweetheart, the Internet has exploded in grief. It's like John Lennon, Martin Luther King and Mother Teresa all died at the same time and James Dolan killed them. It's one thing to say "yeah, Lin was a nice player with some upside, he could carve out a nice career some day". But most Knicks fans (and basketball fans in general) are reacting as if Dolan took a shit on their hopes and dreams. I understand Dolan is a spoiled, pompous jerk. He's made a million and one awful moves during his reign of terror as Knicks owner, and maybe letting Lin go is akin to shitting on your head. But, it's over now, let it go. At least this move is defensible. There's an argument that letting Lin go is a prudent move. He very well may end up being a bust, and the chemistry between him, Carmelo and Amare left something to be desired. It's not a popular opinion but there is at least an argument. There's NO argument for trading Latrell Sprewell for Keith Van Horn, giving Jerome James a monster contract after a couple good games, giving Isiah Thomas an extension after being in 8th place for one day, Eddy Curry for non lottery protected picks, and on and on. Except I don't remember anyone saying they were done as Knicks fans after all of those moves. It's Linsanity all over again, except all that excitement and positive feelings has turned into anger and grief. To all those Knicks fans who feel like their lives are ruined now and maybe are feeling the lure of that new arena in Brooklyn. Take a deep breath, calm down and remember that you were a Knicks fan long before Jeremy Lin was ever in uniform, probably long before he had even picked up a basketball, and in some cases, before he was even born. James Dolan's going to continue to make stupid moves, some stupider than this, but that's no reason to stop being a fan. One particularly dumb argument I hear a lot of people making is "they gave so much money to all these other people, why not him?" or a variation of that, "everyone in the NBA is overpaying worthless players". Because overpaying is en vogue doesn't justify overpaying.

If you're a Knicks fan, my point is: these are the Knicks. You can't just jump ship.We can cry all day about how awful a person Dolan is, how we're going to quit and root for another team, blah blah blah. We all know we'll be right there in front of the tv, or at the Garden, or watching those dots on ESPN gamecast while working late, rooting for the Knicks again. No point in whining about it. Lin is gone, he's not coming back. Your dreams have now been shat on.

Deal with it.

Monday, July 16, 2012

RIP Linsanity: A Timeline of Linsanity in New York

Linsanity has been declared dead more times than Saturday Night Live. First, it was Carmelo's return that killed the phenomenon, then it was the Miami Heat defense in that pre-all star break disaster, and then it was the torn cartilage that sidelined Lin for the Knicks playoff run. Every time, though, it was thought that Linsanity would return, as great as it was the first time, to blow everyone's mind like it's Valentines day 2012 all over again. Now, it seems like time has run out though, on Lin's 15 minutes, at least in New York. The Knicks, by all accounts, will not be matching the Rockets' "ridiculous" offer and Lin will be taking his millions of Asian fans to Houston. We could debate whether or not Lin is a money hungry, ungrateful back up guard with limited skills who just got lucky, or if the Knicks are making the biggest mistake in their history by not holding on to what could be a great, young pro no matter the cost, but that's all conjecture. We have no idea how Lin's career will turn out, if he'll prove himself to be a flash in the pan (albeit a really bright flash) or the second coming of Steve Nash. Either way, it appears his time in New York is done. It was fun while it lasted.

A quick history of important dates in Linsanity

  • December 27th, 2011 The Knicks announce they are claiming Jeremy Lin off waivers, making him the first Chinese or Taiwanese player to suit up in the orange and blue. Me and a handful of other Asian Knicks fans are moderately excited even though we know he'll never get off the bench.

  • February 3rd, 2012- Lin gets off the bench and actually plays in a loss in Boston. He doesn't contribute much but shows some signs of life (which the Knicks had been sorely missing during this period).

  • February 4th, 2012- The day before the Super Bowl, the Knicks are reeling. Playing the third game of the lockout necessitated back to back to back schedule, Mike D'Antoni is willing to try anything short of shaving his moustache to find a winning combination. Lin scores 25 points on an array of layups and jumpers. Knicks fans begin to lose their minds.

  • February 10th, 2012- After two more games that saw a few ridiculous plays, including a buzzer beater that caused Clyde Frazier to say "some things are meant to be" and a dunk past John Wall, Lin shows he's not a fluke and might actually be a decent NBA player. In a nationally televised Friday night game against the Lakers he scores 38, outscoring Kobe and causing countrywide LINSANITY. The next week a photo from this game would serve as the first of back to back Sports Illustrated covers featuring Lin, a rare feat for anyone. It's only going to get worse....

  • February 14th, 2012- Valentine's day is officially renamed VaLINtine's day. Despite getting torched by Jose Calderon for most of the game, he redeems himself with the Knicks last 6 points including a three pointer to win it with less than a second left on the clock. Mayor Bloomberg proclaims Park Avenue will now be known as Lin Avenue. Lepers flock by the hundreds to Landry Field's couch hoping to be healed. The sun shines for 3 straight days as scientists speculate Linsanity has caused a shift in the earth's axis.

  • February 17th, 2012- The end of Linsanity appears to be near as the Knicks crap the bed against the putrid Hornets. The 2012 Hornets suck to begin with in the wake of the Chris Paul trade, but on this night, the Hornets are missing half of their players and feature such greats of the game as Gustavo Ayon and Revis Vasquez. Compounding the Knicks loss is the unfortunate choice of words by an ESPN headline writer. The next night, SNL opens the show with a Linsanity themed sketch. Saturation point has almost been reached.

  • February 19th, 2012- The Knicks beat the champion Mavericks (who are still considered a good team at that point). The game is highlighted by a three by Lin over Nowitzki, and a steal and dunk that literally sends the crowd into hysterics. If you could imagine 100 New Year's eves combined with watching 20 world cup championships in the winning country and 20,000 simultaneous orgasms. It would be about half as excited as the Garden crowd is after Lin's dunk. My favorite part is the three grown men hugging on the verge of tears at the 12 second mark but this video does a nice job of summing up Linsanity. After the dunk, you see some dude jumping up and down on celebrity row (where people usually sit quietly all game), Spike Lee wearing a Harvard jersey, a few seconds of delirious fans hugging in the stands like Oprah just gave them a car, and then video from a restaurant in Chinatown of proud Asians who hadn't watched an NBA game since Yao retired. It wouldn't be all laughs from here though.

  • February 20th, 2012- The following day sees the return of Carmelo Anthony from the injury he suffered on an alley-oop pass during the second game of Linsanity. To say people in New York are worried about his co-existing with Lin is an understatement. And, of course, everyone's worst fears are realized as the Knicks get blown out at home by the revenge-minded Nets. Deron Williams dominates Lin all game. Linsanity is dying...

  • February 23rd, 2012- Lin is a non factor in a nationally televised game against the Heat in Miami days before the all star break. He appears afraid to even dribble the ball never mind be the swaggering hero that he was for the previous weeks. Lin has been exposed, or so it seems. Countdown to Linsanity's death....

  • March 31st, 2012- After a couple weeks of bullshitting that his injury wasn't all that serious, the Knicks announce Lin will have surgery on his knee, conveniently timed after the deadline to renew season tickets. Sneaky, sneaky. Lin still holds out hope he'll return for the playoffs.

  • July 15th, 2012- Despite weeks of hearing nothing but how the Knicks will resign Lin no matter what the Rockets offer, it's reported by numerous media outlets that the Knicks will not be matching Houston's offer. This seems all the more likely when it's announced that the Knicks have made a trade for former Knick Raymond Felton. Linsanity is on life support.

And that leads us to today. The Knicks will make a decision tonight on Lin, and either way it will make some people upset. Those three weeks in February have been mythologized since, (there's already been a book that must have been written in about 2 hours) but as hyped as Lin's Knicks career was, some of it was deserved. It all played out like a corny sports movie; frustrated by his greedy, overpaid stars, a beleagured coach grasping at straws puts in the last guy on the bench. An Asian ivy leaguer who was cut from his previous team on Christmas Eve and he plays really, really well for a couple weeks, leading the team to a win streak and becoming a world wide phenomenon. Except those movies always end with the team either winning it all, or learning a valuable lesson in defeat. They don't usually make sequels to these movies because nobody wants to see where the underdog goes once they're on top or what happens to the phenomenon when their time runs out. Usually, the second chapter isn't nearly as exciting. And in some cases, it's almost sad to watch.

Can Knicks Fans Leave The Knicks and Become Nets Fans?


Monday, July 9, 2012

Top 5 Down Syndrome Athletes

The Cleveland Indians were in town to play the Yankees a couple weeks ago, and were easily swept out of the Bronx. As unsurprising at that might be the way the Yanks have been playing lately, there was one nice surprise: the return of Shelley Duncan! You might remember Shelley taking New York by storm a few years ago, cementing his legacy as another semi retarded looking White guy who caught lightning in a bottle for a few weeks with the Yankees (see Bubba Crosby, Shane Spencer, etc.). Where does Shelley rate in the all time down syndrome looking athlete hall of fame?

5) Timofey Mozgov

Remember Timofey? He had one good game for the Knicks and was then shipped off along with about half of the team for Carmelo Anthony? His claim to fame is that his last name is now a verb thanks to this. To be fair to Timmay, a lot of these eastern European guys look like their mother chain smoked when she was pregnant with them because she probably did, but Timofey is especially "special" looking. Blake Griffin should be ashamed of himself.

4) Shelley Duncan

There's Shelley. As I mentioned earlier, he belongs to that revered group of White guys who came out of apparent nowhere to have exciting shortlived careers with the Yankees. As exciting as those guy's shining moments were though, imagine if an actual dude with down syndrome were to somehow make it through the Yankees farm system and have a positive impact on the team. If he hit one home run, the hype around it would make Linsanity seem like the attention given to a WNBA preseason game. Mike Lupica would puke from excitement. Down Syndrome is so much cooler than being Chinese.

3) Chris Kaman

I've already written about this zombie looking creature before. You might have seen Chris suit up for the German men's basketball team a few years ago. He might only be like 1/8th German, but his looks are 100% mongoloid.

2) Shelden Williams

Shelden seems like a nice guy, and he was a hard worker in his couple months with the Knicks. Kind of like a less annoying Jared Jeffries. Of course, these are all descriptions you would give to someone who actually has Down Syndrome. Fortunately for Shelden, his large misshapen head wasn't enough to scare off Candace Parker. For now, Shelden holds the title of weirdest looking former Blue Devil, and seeing as how that list includes Mike Dunleavy Jr., Carlos Boozer and Cherokee Parks, that's saying something.

1) Sam Cassell

On the Sopranos, Johnny Sack once said to Paulie Walnuts "In the museum of noses, that is the mona lisa". Well, if Johnny was a Nets fan in the late 90s (and he might have been) he probably saw the Mona Lisa of down syndrome athletes, Sam Cassell running the point. Sam's worn a lot of hats in his basketball life: rookie contributor to championship team, wily vet, assistant coach. But all of those titles pale in comparison to his rightful position as head retard of the NBA. He easily could have starred in the Special Olympics but, being the hero that he is, instead played in the NBA. I kid Smilin' Sam, of course, but I'm just bitter about what he did to the Knicks in the 94 Finals. Ugly bastard.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

America F%$& Yeah!

I wrote yesterday that I understand how silly it is to feel pride in something you have no control over yourself, like being born in Brooklyn, and that could also apply to other random forms of pride. Just like being proud of being Italian, or Chinese or, especially, being a patriotic American. The majority of people who are flag waving, love it or leave it, Republican voting patriots have no real right to be that way. They just got lucky enough to have their mother give birth to them within the U.S. borders. They (and this group includes myself) didn't have to work especially hard to stay Americans. You'd have to work harder to not be an American,in fact, seeing as how it is much more difficult to get up and go somewhere than it is to just stay where you are. This is a scientifically proven fact. And let's face it, for most people, being an American is really God damn easy. The ironic thing is the people who should really be blindly patriotic are the ones who that aforementioned group of REAL AMERICANS want to keep out, the immigrants. It makes more sense that you would feel a true sense of pride in actually doing something, like working really hard to get into another country and starting a new life there. If you risked everything just to have a new place to keep your stuff (as George Carlin would say) then you should really be like "FUCK yes, I'm an American! Kiss my ass, other countries!". But the weird thing about patriotism as well as any type of civic pride (such as being a proud Brooklynite like myself) is that most people believe the opposite: unless you were born here you're not truly an American/Brooklynite/whatever. It's not where you're at, it's where you're from. Being an "American" or whatever other country you represent is more about identity and searching for a sense of community than anything rational, and it's definitely not about remembering that we freed ourselves of the British. "Hey, we've been here long enough. Might as well feel something. And you've been here for a while too. Let's eat some wieners!"

That being said, I love the 4th of July and all that comes with it. Stuff your face full of barbecued meats, drink a ton of beer and set off some illegal firecrackers in your backyard. Take some pride in knowing that there's a few million other people doing the exact same thing. AMERICA!

Monday, July 2, 2012

My Struggle to Root for The Brooklyn Nets

I've got a lot of hometown pride. As silly as it really is when you think about it to take pride in something you have no control over like being born in a certain borough, Brooklyn is my home and has been for my whole life with the exception of a couple years in college. So the news that a professional sports franchise is making their home in my borough should make me swell up with irrational feelings of pride. I love basketball and I love Brooklyn. Seems like a perfect match. I should have a Deron Williams (or whoever's on the team next season) fathead on my wall, and add the ugly B logo snapbacks to my wardrobe. Spread love it's the Brooklyn way! Except I'm just not feeling the excitement that the first team in BK in 55 years should be generating in me. This team is still the Nets.

I've spent my entire life either hating or laughing at the Nets, if not both at the same time. Imagine if you lived on a block with a kid for your whole life. He was a real pain in the ass, was a loser most of the time, and when he had some success he was tremendously obnoxious about it. You'd forget he existed until he'd pop up every once in a while and do something really annoying. Then, this guy decided to marry your sister. Now he's a part of your family. He shows up on all holidays and eats dinner at your house on Sundays. If someone insults him they're essentially insulting your family. That's how I feel about the Nets. They've forced themselves into my life now. I am indeed conflicted. If you did one of those infographics on my Facebook statuses, Brooklyn would appear about as often as "and" and "the". It's a big part of my identity. Like most Brooklyn people I talk endlessly about how great we used to be and how much I am annoyed by outsiders claiming our home as theirs. Now I'll be forced to hear "Brooklyn is having a terrible week" or "Brooklyn is on a hot streak" and I'm conflicted as to my feelings about that. When I hate on a team, I like to go all in. It's "Fuck Boston", "the Mets play in Flushing because they're shit", or "Miami fans are the lowest forms of human life". I can't say "Fuck Brooklyn". Not to mention I've already got an NBA team who just so happens to play in the same division and city, but if it were another franchise moving here (say the Kings who would fit right in in the county named for them) I could root for them as a second favorite, except for when they played each other. But I can't get the bad taste of the meadowlands out of my mouth. It tastes like crappy 12 dollar chicken fingers and swamp. How do you separate a team from the city they represent? I can safely hate the Celtics, and everything about them, but can I have the same hatred towards a team that plays only 15 minutes on the R train away from me? I can wish death on Pat Riley's greasy head down there in South Beach, but how could I hate the face of the Nets when he's my favorite rapper? Could I with good faith boo a team with Brooklyn on their chests, even if they still employ Kris Humphries? These are questions I'll be faced with this winter as Brooklyn is all over Sportscenter, the blogs, and social networks. I want to pull for them but I don't know if I can. Even if they somehow pull off a deal to get their own big 3, and are a decent team, they're still The Nets. I should be happy we've hit the big time. Then how come it feels like I'm going to be forced to hate my hometown? I'm excited for a team in Brooklyn, but why did it have to be this one?