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With Lin, 'Wow' might be enough
Jeremy Lin has been picked apart, broken down and analyzed in all different ways. But when he made the 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds left Tuesday night, it really wasn't about his ethnicity, his college background or his life story.
Lin did it again. Here is my analysis: Wow. This is just too much fun. Thank God sports can still provide moments like this, when an athlete can just stir people up naturally. Just pure sport, pure joy.
You're going to have to forgive the media bringing you the story. They/we don't really know how to say "Wow!" In fact, even that exclamation mark violated some sort of basic journalistic tenet. The problem is that "Wow" just doesn't fill up space the way that deep meaning does.
While Lin was doing the postgame interview on TV, teammate Landry Fields came from behind and kissed him. What part of Lin's inner meaning did that cover?
We're getting a little heavy on Lin. The great thing is that it took someone whom no one believed in to get a team of unmatched parts to believe in itself. With Tuesday's 90-87 win over Toronto, the Knicks are now 6-0 in the Lin era. About a week ago, coach Mike D'Antoni was going to be fired. Now, he's in playoff position.
"I'm just glad it went like this, so we can calm the Linsanity down," he said.
"Everyone should be a believer in @Jlin7 after his shot to win the game tonight," Magic Johnson wrote on Twitter.
"Yes, he came out of nowhere, which is my nickname for Harvard . . . " Stephen Colbert said on The Colbert Report. "I'm not some fair-weather fan. I've been behind my boy Lin since Day 1 of sometime last week." In the past 12 days, Lin has gone from 29,000 Twitter followers to 280,000. He is on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Lin is the NBA's Tim Tebow, in that he has created a stir so big and so fast. But the truth is, Tebow was carrying political meaning with him, too. With such openness about his religious beliefs, Tebow had plenty of liberals and conservatives thinking he represented all things they stood for or against.
Lin is openly religious, too, but he hasn't become a symbol of politics. At least, he hasn't been used that way yet, though Bill Maher did Tweet this: "Vatican has been looking for that second miracle to make John Paul a saint...cld it be #Linsanity???"
Tebow's insanity had time to develop, a base from his college days. Lin just emerged from nowhere.
That's the real charm here. He is the ultimate underdog, playing in New York, replacing superstars Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, who couldn't figure out how to play together. So Anthony got hurt, and Stoudemire left for a family issue, and Lin came up from the minors, after two teams had already cut him. And, poof, the little guy is winning big.
With 27 points Tuesday night, Lin now has scored 136 in his first five games as a starter. It's a record since the NBA-ABA merger, breaking Shaquille O'Neal's 129.
What Lin is doing, as an Asian-American point guard in the NBA, is breaking all stereotypes. You wonder how many more of him are out there now, unlikely to get a chance.
How many scouts look at a guy like Lin, or even looked at Lin himself, and passed because he didn't look the part? How many college coaches? None offered him a scholarship out of high school.
In fact, it makes you wonder how deep these stereotypes sit in our sports psyche. Do parents, who more and more keep specializing their young kids in sports, steer them into stereotypes? How much greatness is missed?
Well, there I go now, talking about "sports psyche." Save that blah, blah for later, after we get down off the buzz a little.
Early in Tiger Woods' career, I stood in the gallery as he went up the final fairway outside Chicago. People simply couldn't control themselves and started charging out onto the fairway behind him. Thousands packed in behind him and then walked neatly behind him.
They had to walk up with him. Just had to. He made them.
That's what Lin is doing now. It's what he's about, a guy coming from nowhere to sink 3-pointers at the buzzer. The New York Knicks cleared out for Jeremy Lin! That's deep enough meaning in itself.