Jeremy Lin Is Just What the NBA Needs

Mike WassersonContributor IIFebruary 21, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 20:  Jeremy Lin #17 of the New York Knicks smiles during the game against the New Jersey Nets at Madison Square Garden on February 20, 2012 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

He’s captivating the nation one point, one assist, and one corny word play with his last name at a time. A seemingly unknown two weeks ago, Jeremy Lin has essentially single-handedly propelled the New York Knicks into the most talked about team in the country. And Lin has become its most cherished player on a team that includes both Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony.

In the social media day and age we are in now, Lin couldn’t have picked a better time to bust through the wall and into our media platforms. Not since probably Fernando Valenzuala for the Dodgers have we seen someone break onto the scene in such a feverish and rampant fashion.

With that said, there are three main reasons as to why Lin’s story is truly the perfect storm of events.


ESPN is the biggest front-runner in the country when it comes to latching onto the “hot topic.” Whether it’s Red Sox vs. Yankees,  Brett Favre, Terrell Owens, Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson, Duke Basketball, Tim Tebow or now Lin, they spearhead the movement of ramming one topic into your skull repeatedly.

It really can’t even be considered journalism anymore, instead it's more like TMZ or National Enquirer sensationalist reporting. Just a few months ago, you couldn’t go five minutes without hearing a back and forth unnatural and manufactured forum where two neanderthals “debate” on Tim Tebow. Yes, I’m referring to you “First Take”.

Despite this, one has to admit that you really can’t blame ESPN. They’re just pandering to their masses which mostly includes juvenile, ADD, impatient viewers who only really care about seeing Blake Griffin dunk over *insert power forward here*, Colin Cowherd and Michelle Beadle talking about YouTube videos while holding bells and whistling sound effects or LeBron James dancing as he comes out to a smoke machine entrance.


New York

New York, more specifically Madison Square Garden, is the Mecca of all sports (or so we’re told).  So when a story like this comes around, it’s obviously going to get blown out of proportion. Knicks fans have a reason to be passionate about their team again, thanks to a once-every-25-year story where someone like Lin has the impact that he is having. If this were happening in a secondary or even tertiary basketball market like Milwaukee or Memphis, it would struggle to generate nearly a third of the steam that it has accrued.

A lot goes into Lin’s race as a major factor, but I don’t think it really is that much of a big deal. Sure it plays somewhat of a role, but you can’t deny that if a black, white, purple or green player with the same background as Lin went on a tear, especially in New York, that he would be generating as much recognition. Playing in New York supercedes all. 

Sorry Floyd Mayweather, a black player would be getting just as much praise as Lin. It’s not like anyone doesn’t know who Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant are. The media certainly didn’t/doesn’t neglect them.

By the way, you know somewhere deep down inside LeBron James that he is downtrodden about this entire story. Two summers ago, he had the chance to pick any team from the litter to go to and become the star, including New York. Instead, he chose to go to some out-of-tune basketball (and really sports in general) market in Miami, share the spotlight with two other players, yet still be blamed for the team underachieving.

LeBron could have had New York in the palm of his hand, putting on a show in MSG for the next however many years he plays. But hey, maybe he wanted it the other way. Maybe he didn’t want to be the biggest star in the biggest market. Not everyone is cut out to be, and James certainly gives off traits of that mold. 


The NBA is an afterthought

Let’s be honest, nobody really cares about the NBA until May/June when we’re more than six months into the season and nearly two months into the sabbatical known as the playoffs. Sure, you have household names like LeBron, Kobe, Durant and Griffin, but we’ve all been saturated with them throughout the years. They’ve become bland because we expect them to be great and make highlights. 

The NBA was dying for someone to give it a kick in the rear and turbo-charge interest. And that’s what Lin has done. Heck, take a look at Madison Square Garden’s stock, which has gone up nearly 15 percent in the past three weeks mainly because of Lin. He’s obviously having an effect. 

The guy is not only drawing interest in the Knicks, but he’s drawing interest to the game again. Teams like New Orleans, Washington, Minnesota and Toronto, that struggle with attendance, are selling out their respective arenas just to see Lin come to town. It’s an entire trickle down effect for the economics of the specific teams involved against playing the Knicks.

Probably the most important thing is that Lin has earned everything that has been coming his way throughout the past couple of weeks. It’s not a case like Tim Tebow where the guy is struggling and being a detriment to his team for 98 percent of the game, does just enough to win in the end, and then reaps all of the credit. Lin is far from a flash in the pan and he’s here to stay. And I’m sure no one in the NBA (at least involved in it from a monetary perspective) has a problem with it.

And that, ESPN, is how you make it through an article without any racist undertones.