Jeremy Lin’s nemesis is not Kobe or Dirk
Jeremy Lin is not supposed to happen in the 21st century.
We live in a world dominated by technology, communication
and knowledge. We live our lives with few surprises.
Information is power and knowledge guides us through our
days. The weather is tracked, traffic monitored, crops
projected, money exchanged, illness predicted, minutia
Googled and in the hyper-aggressive world of professional
sports, players evaluated.
Rarely do we see a professional athlete rise from relative
obscurity to capture the imagination of sports fans across
our land, transcending New York, basketball, the
Association and David Stern.
Jeremy Lin is doing the impossible: playing like an All-
Star after getting cut by two different teams and unifying
a downtrodden team of renown. And he’s doing it in a
market/league where known commodities are coveted,
acquired, groomed, stroked, praised, promoted and paid.
The NBA is the best basketball our species can produce and
millions of dollars are invested every year in finding
humans that can play like Jeremy Lin.
And that’s why this story is the best story of 2012.
Jeremy Lin has turned competing against the best athletes
in the world into his own personal playground. Owners,
general managers, scouts, coaches and players not only
populate this playground but rule it with an iron-fist.
The playground is known; it has a chain-link fence around
its perimeter. The pecking order is firmly established.
Jeremy Lin has either forgotten or ignored his place
within this paradigm. Somebody forgot to tell the kid from
Harvard that 30 teams passed him by in the NBA Draft…
twice. The powers that run the playground didn’t pick him
last in a pick-up game, they didn’t pick him at all.
But there have been others. Jeremy Lin is not alone.
Kurt Warner walked onto the NFL playground in 1999. The
skeptic in us all, including those that ran the
playground, watched and waited for Warner to implode.
Week after week, pundits, experts, analysts, players,
coaches and Joe in Creve Coeur warned us of Kurt’s
imminent demise. And week after week Kurt Warner defied
Tim Tebow captured the imagination of a grateful nation
this past season. All he did was win games. But Tebow was
a known commodity coming out of Florida. To many, Tebow
was an icon, winning a national championship and the
Heisman Trophy while being selected in the first-round of
the NFL Draft out of Florida.
And the Tebow tale differs from the Jeremy Lin legend in
another way: Tebow never played or dominated like Lin.
In 7 games, Jeremy Lin is averaging 24 points and 9
assists. He has hit game winners and guided, directed and
inspired the Knicks from the brink of the abyss to a .500
record. New York has won 7 consecutive games and Jeremy
Lin has played well in all of those wins. He has been the
difference and the Knicks have won games despite not
having Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony.
And therein lies the rub.
The only thing that might move Jeremy Lin back into the
corners of the playground is not Kobe Bryant or Dirk
Nowitzki. Jeremy Lin’s adversary is much more ancient than
the NBA. With all he’s overcome to get to this point, Lin
must now fight what all of us have struggled with and/or
experienced: pride and ego.
Amare’s pride and Melo’s ego.