Jeremy Lin: An Open Letter in the Face of Uncertainty
Well, Jeremy Lin, I imagine you have some anxious feelings as the clock ticks toward that midnight deadline when you find out whether you get to perform the NBA version of Cinderella again in New York, or if you will have to take your underdog act way off Broadway to the Lone Star State.
From the sounds of it, you might be the lone star in Houston; not necessarily the best player, but certainly the most recognizable name in a Rockets' uniform.
Unless, that is, the Rockets somehow manage to bring along Dwight Howard to corral your lobs.
Even without Superman flying around Toyota Center, you could drive up and down that Texan basketball court unencumbered by personal state income tax.
But perhaps all that money is weighing on you right now. According to ESPN.com, sources have said that you were surprised to hear that the Knicks might not match Houston's offer.
It didn’t sound like a welcome surprise.
It is, of course, your enormous salary offer that has caused so much consternation and confusion of late, even eliciting a stinging adjective from your best teammate, Carmelo Anthony, who called the offer, the situation or both: “ridiculous.”
Don’t take Anthony’s assessment too much to heart, though, because he came pretty late to the party.
As you recall, he got injured when you first revealed the bag of tricks you had been practicing in the D-League, and he was on the sidelines as your fresh fervor filled your Knicks teammates with a fever for wins.
You have surely heard that there are plenty of fans in New York still petitioning on your behalf (via Yahoo Blog, Ball Don't Lie)
Those devotees want the Knicks' brass to remember how you came out of nowhere, rising so high that you were soon draining jumpers over seven-footers like Pau Gasol and Dirk Nowitzki, and shooting surges of hope into a depressed Knicks fanbase in the process.
MSG had grown weary of watching a Stoudemire-Anthony tandem that had as much collective grace as middle schoolers slow dancing, with just as many awkward, halting steps.
You, though, were like that kid that no one knew who suddenly started break-dancing with such shocking alacrity that in no time you had gathered a stunned and rapturous circle of supporters who egged you on for more jaw-dropping moves.
But now there are rumors that you got cocky and greedy and forgot where you came from: no not Palo Alto or Harvard or even the D-League, but New York.
You see, Jeremy, some think you were made there. That if it weren’t for the unique iridescence of New York lights, you would never have shown so bright.
So as the Knicks chased hard after Steve Nash—as if the American basketball dream has always been to find a 38-year-old Canadian with a bad back—you were supposed to just say to yourself, “Man, I’m just lucky to be someone’s Plan B.”
Maybe, though, you watched Steve Nash like he was your mentor, even before Jason Kidd came crashing into that roll.
Maybe you heard Nash say that there really is no true loyalty in sports. You watched a self-styled “old-school guy” who claimed he could never imagine putting on a Laker uniform, look suddenly giddy donning an L.A. jersey.
So, much to Carmelo’s surprise and dismay (see, it is not just your contract offer that has caught him off-guard lately), the Knicks didn’t land Nash, and you were suddenly a prized commodity again.
But then you had to do it. You started acting as if you really were a prized commodity (which, as mentioned, you were). You tried to get as big an offer as possible from Houston (which is what any restricted free agent would have done in your shoes), and true to what they say of everything in Texas, you came out with a whopper of a deal.
Somehow this sparked resentment.
Your wheeling and dealing behind the scenes has enhanced the animus of those who think your wheeling and dealing on the court last year was nothing more than a sideshow without long-term substance.
I beg to differ. You didn’t put up all your prodigious numbers after an offseason of gelling with your team, or in the kind of peak condition one acquires after easing from preseason to regular-season play.
No, you were thrown on the court in a desperation gamble that paid off for those myriad of groups who cashed in as your surname transformed into a ubiquitous pun for overcoming the odds.
And now you will get paid, and I say well done and well deserved (especially considering the NBA is in the business of entertainment, and that your amazing run last year was the product of unflappable persistence and years of diligent hard work in relative anonymity).
Stay in New York and overcome the pockets of resentment you will face there, perhaps even in the locker room. Or, if the Knicks pass, take it as an assist to start afresh with a new team.
Your most profound roots are not in some bounded geographical territory—New York, Houston or anywhere else; they are in a soul that rises above oppressive doubts.
Jeremy Lin, keep believing and inspiring belief, wherever you go.
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