The Lowdown on Lin



By Jim Hurley:

It’s Thursday, February 16th and this is what Jim Sez is thinking about today …

Okay, so we admit it:

The Jeremy Lin Experience that’s taken New York (and much of the country) by storm is now more than a week old and yet we haven’t said Word One about the 6-foot-3 Knicks’ point guard in this Jim Sez column space.

No reason, really.

The whole “Linsanity” thing has been a blast and – to be sure – a true shot in the arm to one of the more moribund NBA franchises around but maybe we were among the folks who wanted to see how this latest cult hero evolved over time.

Now we gotta admit something else:

We really would like the Harvard grad to continue to be successful – his three-point top-of-the-key buzzer-beating basket that beat Toronto on Tuesday night catapulted the Knicks to a 90-87 North of the Border win that gave Mike D’Antoni’s squad a season-best sixth straight win – and mainly our “rooting interest” comes down to the fact that Lin is a down-to-earth guy who … surprise, surprise … actually makes his teammates better and the truth of the matter is you can count on one hand how many NBA players have that skill and the list pretty much begins and ends with Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose.

Here’s another thing about Lin who became the NBA’s all-time leading scorer among players making their first five starts – his 129 points over the span of his first five starts (that’s a sizzling 25.8 points per game average) is fabulous stuff and tops the likes of Shaquille O’Neal, Dominique Wilkins and Jerry Stackhouse:

He has embraced his role as a New York City folk hero – in a big town with a major Asian population, Lin’s been more than happy to serve as a role model. The guy’s been great.

Yet, here’s the underlying lowdown on Lin from a national perspective with plenty of NYC folks thinking along the same lines:

Lin’s constant religious references already have made him a target of ridicule – yes, just as what happened with Denver Broncos’ quarterback Tim Tebow who similarly took the NFL by storm in his second season with some major come-from-behind wins.

Maybe sports fans don’t believe Lin and Tebow should be quoting the Bible or other religious documents every time they get interviewed by the working media but if this is who they really are than why’s there a problem?

No doubt religion is a touchy and sensitive topic in America – has been for a long, long time and will be for a long time to come – but the bottom line is Lin’s athletic skills/talents should be celebrated and the fact that he’s almost single-handedly turned the beat around with a bad Knicks team should make him the toast of the town.

P.S., we take it that Los Angeles Lakers mega-star Kobe Bryant now knows full well who Lin is and why he’s created such a stir.

Will his on-court success last forever?

Of course it won’t but on a Knicks team that banked on “saviors” Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire to lead ‘em it’s been Lin – a castoff of the Golden State Warriors earlier this lockout-marred NBA season – that’s created the buzz

Yes, Mr. Tebow literally took it on the chin in the Broncos’ season-ending 45-10 loss in the AFC Divisional Playoff round game at New England on the night of January 14th and maybe Lin’s 2011-12 season will have a crash landing of sorts too but – say what you will – these are two of the “good guys” in sports even if they may turn off some folks with their religious beliefs/comments

Isn’t it better to celebrate them than it is to celebrate NFL, NBA and Major-League Baseball “knuckleheads” who are constantly making the news for all the wrong reasons?

And now hear this...
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Now, here’s some more random NBA-related thoughts/observations …

Speaking of Shaq, it’s nice of him to weigh in on the Dwight Howard situation in Orlando.

Naturally, O’Neal is allowed his opinion like anyone else – he is a studio analyst for TNT and the NBA Network these days following his retirement – but for the future Hall of Famer to say Howard’s possible exit from Orlando would be a “travesty” is a joke.

Sure, Howard can get more money from Orlando than anyone else out there thanks to the NBA’s current collective bargaining agreement but why shouldn’t he pursue his best options which right now appears to be a possible trade to New Jersey or Dallas or maybe even the Los Angeles Lakers – yes, the place Shaq went when he exited Orlando way back in 1996. Howard will almost certainly be moved out of town by March 15th or the Magic will risk getting nothing for him in the off-season (just as happened with O’Neal a decade-and-a-half ago) and then all in-the-know insiders believe than he’ll sign with the Lakers.

In terms of Shaq – whom we love – here’s our advice:

Do as you say, not as you did. Howard has every right to scoot the land of Disney, just as O’Neal did 16 years ago …

Finally, here’s a rather frightening thought for the NBA:

The San Antonio Spurs may be a better-than-you-think threat to win this year’s championship in June.

Why does that notion tend to scare NBA Commissioner David Stern and the league’s television partners?

Simply because the Spurs – who won NBA titles in 1999, 2003. ’05 and ’07 – have never been considered glitzy or glamorous despite the fact they ball the game the “right way” and here we are midway through February and the Spurs entered Wednesday’s game in Toronto with a stirring 20-9 mark (a .690 winning percentage that ranked San Antonio tied for fourth-best in the league with Philadelphia) and very much a cream-of-the-crop team that’s handled the minefields of this compressed regular-season schedule.

True, versatile G Manu Ginobili has played in only seven games so far this year but F Tim Duncan has missed just one game, PG Tony Parker has played in all 29 games and ditto for the likes of Richard Jefferson, DeJuan Blair and San Diego State rookie Kawhi Leonard – don’t know about you but we always root for the Spurs (providing we’re not going against ‘em with a wager, of course) and have always admired the way they play the game.

The TV ratings be damned – a Spurs-Miami Heat NBA Finals would be top-shelf stuff, if you ask us!

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