It’s Better to Have Lin-ed and Lost Than to Never Have Lin-ed At All: Reflections on Jeremy Lin
Two months ago, what became widely known as “Linsanity” was birthed to the unexpecting NBA universe. Jeremy Lin, an unheralded point guard for the New York Knicks, was thrust into the starting line-up seemingly out of desperation as the Knicks were slumping. You know sometimes when people hit the TV to try and get better reception? That’s what Coach Mike D’Antoni did with the Knicks and it worked. Jeremy Lin supplied a hopeful, optimistic solution to the problem.
Lin’s installation into the starting line-up propelled the Knicks to a seven-game winning streak and more importantly provided a much needed resurgence of life and morale for a team devoid of either. He quickly caught the attention of basketball fans with his electrifying play, savvy passing, and game-winning shots in what became coined as “Linsanity.” Within one week, he went from contemplating getting an office job to becoming an NBA household name. He mattered.
But then what? When is the last time you’ve heard Jeremy Lin’s name? Exactly. Lin hasn’t played since a March 24th win against the Pistons due to a knee injury, one that he will undergo surgery for, potentially sidelining him for the remainder of the season. Lately, I’ve been trying to figure out what to make of Linsanity.
Well, for starters, the hype was definitely real. He was fun to watch. I specifically remember clearing my schedule one Friday night so I could watch him play Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, a game in which he scored 38 points, validating all the publicity. “Did you see Lin last night?!,” I began a conversation the next day. Maybe it was the Lin-drenaline pulsing through my veins.
But I haven’t thought about the guy for probably a month now after I had followed him ever so scrupulously when the hype began. The fact that I kept a watchful eye on his every move for a week might make it appear that I cared a great deal about this particular New York Knickerbocker. Yet, the more I think about it, I’m not so sure.
I would submit that I, and probably you, never actually cared about Jeremy Lin that much to begin with–even though I functionally did. Have you talked to anyone that is inconsolably sad because Lin is out with a potentially season-ending injury? Probably not. He was just a pleasant distraction from everything else going on in my life.
Jeremy Lin wasn’t the point. What I cared about was the unique and specific sensation that sports give us every now and again. It is as untraceable as just about anything I know of. It is a sort of sports magic that has its way with the souls of faithful fans and “bandwagon-ers” alike. We all saw it with Tebow last fall. The guy played terrible…TERRIBLE (sorry Florida fans) for the most part of each game then, suddenly, sports magic took over in the 4th quarter with Tim Tebow as its pawn, vindicating the expenditure of three precious, beautiful Sunday afternoon hours watching him. We also see it each March as “Cinderella teams” advance in the NCAA Tournament. This sports magic is an amalgamation of unlikelihood and excellence.
It is these unexpected moments that attract us to guys like Lin and Tebow (footnote: Yes, Tebow’s faith plays a role in his intrigue but I really don’t think people would listen to him as much publically if he couldn’t get it done on the gridiron). They are often gone as quickly as they showed up. That’s ok, though. We’ll find the next transcendental sports experience soon enough.
So, even though Lin is off the map right now, I am thankful for his contributions to the NBA and my heart. It was better to have Lin-ed and lost than to never have Lin-ed at all.