Wednesday, February 15, 2012

02/15 (Linsanity, Cont'd) Quickie

"Its crazy! I'm watching Linsanity hoping every shot goes in. Hope I never grow up."

That is Steve Nash last night, tweeting out a sentiment that I think we can all relate to.

Yes, Linsanity is about Jeremy Lin, obviously -- his backstory, his success.

But Linsanity is also about us -- about fans. It's about those rare moments when a story is so special -- "magic," the great Bruce Arthur called it after last night's finish (the wildest one yet) -- that it goes to the very core of why we love sports and why sports can be so amazing.

Linsanity is Jeremy Lin taking the league by storm.
Linsanity is the mania gripping fans right now.

I spent a lot of time yesterday thinking about the veritable perfect storm of circumstances that makes this what it is -- the "Asian-American Harvard grad" part is big, obviously. That he was undrafted (and cut multiple times) is huge. That he is personally humble, at least in the media (yet wildly demonstrative on the court). That he plays in New York. That he got to take over a star-less team (at first). That the Knicks had a manageable schedule (leading up to the Lakers and national TV). That it is a system (and coach) that is perfectly suited for him.

I wondered if there was a way to find the "next Jeremy Lin" -- it doesn't have to be a national sensation, but merely a massively undervalued player who becomes a key contributor -- but the fact is that when you stack up the factors, you realize just how unique this moment is. It makes for an even greater appreciation.

There's one other tweet that stood out for me last night, from PTI's Erik Rydholm:

Jeremy Lin is adorable. But on the final shot, he called for an iso, his team backed off, and he delivered. That's cold-bleepin'-blooded."

That is the last element of this that makes me marvel -- Lin isn't just a role player making the most of an opportunity; Lin is the center of the team (a team with two mega-stars). Lin is the star -- not "star" like "celebrity," but "star" like "most valuable player." And he plays like it.

Last night's buzzer-beating game-winner was added to the most reserved space in the Lin canon not just because he made the shot... but because he took the shot. He wanted to take the shot. He demanded to take the shot. As fans, we are attracted to that kind of alpha attitude. That he is so endearingly other-focused off the court (or in post-game interviews) makes it all the more awesome. But make no mistake: Lin knows who he is and what he can do.

It is impossible -- no matter which team you root for or even if you don't follow basketball -- not to keep cheering for him to keep it going, for the mania to continue.

Hope we never grow up.

-- D.S.

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