Thanks For Those Few Weeks: A Teenager’s Perspective On Linsanity

Back in December, the Knicks signed Jeremy Lin as a free agent. Of course, the sole reaction from Knick fans were like, “huh?” because literally no one, unless you were a basketball blogger or die-hard NBA fan that followed the league at regular intervals, knew who he was. When the signing was made, I then read Howard Beck’s article on Lin. The name struck me, but like the majority of the people, I had little to no idea who this dude was. I’m starting to read Beck’s article, and then I realized that he played against the Knicks while he was with the Warriors.  Lin’s minutes in that game were essentially garbage time minutes. He played close to an even 3 minutes on the court. After I read the Beck article, I had a clear idea of what Jeremy Lin’s story was and it was an interesting story. An undrafted player out of Harvard is definitely not a story you would hear frequently at all. Hearing about players being undrafted was frequent ie: John Starks, Udonis Haslem, Ben Wallace, just to name a few. But a player being undrafted out of the most prestigious university in the United States? Pretty interesting. Not to mention that former Knick great and former three-term New Jersey senator, Bill Bradley, went to Princeton, but wasn’t undrafted, as he was one of the three territorial selections in the 1965 NBA draft. Throughout franchise history, the Knicks have had quite the brains.

I live in a very diverse community. That being said, I go to school with people of a lot of different cultures, which is great. Most of the people had little to no interest in basketball, unless they were playing the sport itself. Most of the people are Laker fanboys and Knick fans at the same time, which irks me and doesn’t make absolute sense, but at least they’re fans of the game. My friends were messaging me on Facebook about the Lin signing. One of my many friends, Russell, messaged me on Facebook; “James, did you hear about the Knicks signing Jeremy Lin?” I simply said “Yes.” Then, he says “I know you’re a huge Knick fan and I really wanted to ask you this: do you think Jeremy Lin will be playing anytime soon?” I stopped to think about that question for a moment. The locked out NBA season was in it’s baby steps phase. The Knicks were coming off of a valiant Christmas Day win against the savant Celtics and the struggle within the Knicks prior to the season starting was for a legitimate point guard that wasn’t the struggling Toney Douglas. With confidence, I said to Russell “I think that Lin will definitely start for the Knicks, not anytime soon, but he will start, considering what they’re going through right now in terms of point guard issues. All I have to say is: patience.” Russell said “do you really think so?” “Yes.” I said. Then Russell had to go. The last thing he said was “Thanks for your opinion, James. You’re a good friend when it comes to talking about basketball. Ttyl.” “Thanks. I really appreciate it. Hopefully my prediction will be fulfilled haha. Ttyl.”

If Russell didn’t have to leave, I would of said “I didn’t know you were a fan of basketball, Russell.” but since he had to get off, all I could of done was to conclude the conversation since he was concluding it. As I said in the last paragraph, the people in my school had the least amount of interest in basketball, for the most part, and Russell was one of those people. The Knicks were really struggling. At the time, Knick fans were relying on Baron Davis, who was still coping with a back injury, to fill in the point guard role. Toney Douglas was talking through his hat, he had no damn idea how to play as a starter. It looked like someone took a gargantuan dump on his game. It was god awful. As much as I liked Toney Douglas, words couldn’t describe how atrocious he was playing as a starter and even off the bench in garbage time minutes. It wasn’t just Toney Douglas that was a mess, Carmelo Anthony was also putting up some horrific numbers, which generally, shooters tend to do a lot, but Melo’s numbers were just nefarious to a point where people were blaming him for losing all the games the Knicks lost whenever he had a crappy shooting percentage.

Of course, that’s what happens when you play in the heftiest sports market in the United States. The fans are a barbaric behemoth that likes to feed on vulnerable prey, the vulnerable prey being Carmelo Anthony in this case. Going to school the following day after that stretch of games was annoying because of the people that were so-called Knick fans were eating the shit out of the “blame Melo” bait unlike the Knick fans that were knowledgeable and intelligent that knew that there were other reasons why the Knicks were on this weary roller coaster of a stretch. “Melo sucks,” TRADE MELO,” and other generic battle cries to get Melo out of New York were looming over New York. Oh, it wasn’t just about Melo too, it was also about now former coach Mike D’Antoni. “Fire the coach” alarmists were everywhere. “Mike No D’Antoni” was the most popular insult according to so-called Knick fans in my school. The Knicks were a mess. Plain and simple.

Jeremy Lin started to get notoriety from his garbage time minutes when he was subbed in for Iman Shumpert against the Bobcats. He played close to 6 minutes and scored 8 points along with dishing 4 assists and was even tagged with 3 fouls. The next day in school, I’m starting to hear some buzz, but the minutest of buzz about Lin. You know how there are rumor mills in high school? For example “oooh, he’s going out with her?” That’s what the Lin buzz seemed like in my school. Four days after the Charlotte game, he played just over 20 minutes in the Knicks loss against the Rockets. The Knicks as a team was horrendous that game. The excessively bleeding Toney Douglas shot 3-13 from the field scoring 7 points and dishing 4 assists while Lin came off the bench scoring 9 points along with 6 assists. Despite shooting 3-9 from the field, Lin had better numbers than Douglas.

The Knicks were 7-13 through the first 20 games of the 66 game locked out season. As it was expected, fans were displeased with the Knicks performance through that stretch, as they should. “Where’s our point guard?” was still the main question of concern among Knick fans. Back at my school, Knick fans were so dysfunctional. A lot of them were mostly casual bandwagon fans that converted to Net fans (this is when they were still in New Jersey. They’re incredibly dumb). Russell, who was starting to talk more about the Knicks only with me, and another one of my friends, Daniel, who is a Laker and Knick fan (ugh…still doesn’t make any sense to me whatsoever) was expressing his harsh criticism about the Knicks dismal playing. Here I am still crying in a corner (not literally) about their playing, still defending Melo’s crappy performances, telling bandwagon fans and some real Knick fans that it’s not just Melo’s fault when the team as a whole is playing like crap.

On Monday January 30th, two days after the Knicks lost to the Rockets, I had a little debate with my friend, Daniel, about why the Knicks are playing like crap. To me, it was quite obvious: the level of effort was in the red. The debate happened anyways and it only lasted for about 2 minutes. “Griffo, why are the Knicks playing like this?” said Daniel. “I swear to god, if you take this out on Melo you’re gonna—” Daniel cuts me off. “No, I’m not taking all of it out on Melo. Not all of the blame should go on him.” said Daniel. “Well, obviously not.” I said. “The lack of effort from everyone is clearly why they’re playing like the poo poo. Part of  why they’re playing like crap is because of Melo’s abysmal shooting woes, but not all of it is. Forget the starters for a moment, the bench is playing like…crap, just crap. And finally, the whole team is playing like the Washington Generals. I love the Washington Generals for some reason.” Daniel couldn’t stop laughing.  ”Hahaha” Daniel said. “I agree with everything you said. I couldn’t have said it better.” That was essentially the whole conversation. The conversation was the equivalent of a 30 second phone call confirming that you’re on your way to someone’s house.

It was not until February 4th where the whole basketball landscape changed dramatically. It seemed like another ordinary winter day. My Dad, sister and I decided to go to Dave and Buster’s. The Knicks were also playing the Nets at MSG and at D&B’s, there were millions of TV’s with the Knick game on. My whole wardrobe is basically jerseys and Levi’s skinny jeans (don’t knock on me because of me wearing skinny jeans). I wore my favorite Bernard King jersey and my Knick hat. While I was playing the Guitar Hero arcade machine, (I play expert if you’re wondering what difficulty I play on) I heard drunk dudes at the bar going batshit crazy. I thought there was a bar fight going on, but it turns out that wasn’t the case. What was actually happening: Jeremy Lin was tearing up the court, lobbing passes to Tyson Chandler for mesmerizing alley oops, crossing over Deron Williams, and driving to the hoop with his uncanny first step. For all I know, Lin was a folk hero by half time. But no, he scored 25 points, dished 7 assists along with 5 rebounds and 2 steals. After I finished playing “Rock You Like A Hurricane” on the Guitar hero machine, I ran right over to the bar where all the TV’s were. Drunk dudes were giving me random high fives, performing pseudo-emphatic movements and just being plain demented. It was a jolly ole time (and outlandish time) at the bar.

On my iPhone, my Facebook and Twitter push notifications exploded as did the Internet. When I got home, I immediately went on Facebook and Twitter because my iPhone was spazzing out like you wouldn’t believe. Daniel messaged me approximately 10 seconds after I logged in. “GRIFFO! LINSANITY!” he said. “THE LIN DYNASTY HAS BEGUN IT’S REIGN!” I said. “YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW HAPPY I AM RIGHT NOW!” Daniel said. “Oh, I know how happy you are. You’re happy happy joy joy. Everyone else is probably going bonkers like you.” I said. And thus, Linsanity (The Lin Dynasty, The Jeremy Lin Experience, and whatever Lin pun was acceptable, primarily Linsanity because it was trademarked) was born.

Monday February 6th, I’m back in school. Walking through the hallways at the end of every class was joyous for me because I kept hearing the numerous amounts of people raving about Lin. They sure were raving Linatics. NBA fans in my school were talking about Lin’s superlative performance against the lowly Nets. My gym teacher, who’s a huge Knick fan, was also talking to me about the game. Linsanity was just beginning. Against the Jazz, Lin struck back again with another outstanding performance scoring 28 points, and dishing 8 assists, but with 8 turnovers as well. The Knicks still crushed the Jazz 99-88.  Two days later, the Knicks played the lowly Wizards and Lin posted a double-double (23-10). Linsanity was spreading like wildfire, especially after this cross-over and dunk finish on John Wall. Now, the people that didn’t care about sports in my school were talking about Lin, comparing it to Tebowmania. Those people were dumb as a blonde and they still are dumb as a blonde for thinking that.

The Knicks were on a three game winning streak and the greatly frowned upon Lakers were coming to town. I asked Daniel “So, who are you rooting for?” He said the Knicks, assuming because of Lin and I respect that answer. “You gotta stop with being a Laker fan. I just never understood the concept of being a Laker and Knick fan. It’s so asinine.” I said. “Whatever.” Daniel said. “My uncle bred me as a Laker fan.” “Tell him that there’s a new sheriff in town right here in New York, the sheriff being Jeremy Lin, although he probably knows by now.” I said. Daniel laughed.

For some reason, I’ve always liked Derek Fisher. I would always goof on him. And when Jeremy Lin spun around Derek Fisher for this enthralling layup, my mental state was bonkers. This game was Lin’s best scoring game, scoring 38 points and dishing 7 dimes with 6 turnovers. Yes, Lin was setting NBA turnover records, but almost no one gave a rat’s ass about his turnover numbers. All they cared about was the resurgence of Jeremy Lin. Meanwhile, on Facebook, I’m laughing at all of the people posting statuses about bandwagon Knick fans, when the people that were posting those statuses were the bandwagon Knick fans to begin with prior to Linsanity occurring. On Twitter, the blogosphere was coming up with brand spanking new Lin puns. The same day, the Knicks were visiting Minnesota going up against the Timberwolves with other local sensation straight outta Barcelona, Ricky Rubio. The Knicks narrowly escaped this game, thanks to Steve Novak coming up big in the 4th quarter. Lin had a sloppy shooting night going 8-24 from the field. Despite his shooting woes, Lin still managed to score 20 points, dish 8 assists and grab 6 rebounds with 6 turnovers. That was certainly not Lin’s best game whatsoever, but the Knicks won their 5th game in a row, bringing their record back up to 13-15.

The Knicks next game was against the Raptors. It was also Valentine’s Day. It was just another ordinary day of school for me. I’ll never forget this: After school, this guy gave a Valentine’s Day card to a girl. The funny thing was that the two barely knew each other. I still know both of them to this day. The guy blurted out the cliche “will you be my Valentine?” and he also gave the girl a bag with wrapping in it. She took the wrapping out of the bag and a name and number Lin Knicks shirt was in the bag. The two then proceeded to make passionate love outside. I couldn’t believe what was going on, but I gotta admit, it was such an epic sight to see. No, not just because of the kissing, it was because of this one athlete that was essentially becoming a part of these people’s lives.

The Knicks were en route to their 6th straight win against the Raptors, but the Raptors, a sub-500 team, made the game a lot more diffcult for the Knicks to win. The Knicks were expected to blow out the Raptors, but in the closing seconds of the 4th quarter with the game tied up at 87, Lin isolates from everyone else with Jose Calderon defending him. Lin puts up the shot and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat as he drained the game winning three. At that point, the Internet exploded again. Once again, everyone that I basically knew was going crazy on Facebook, and I literally scared my dog after that game winning shot. That game was the peak of Linsanity. Despite having another double-double (27-11) Lin almost had acquired a triple-double with 8 turnovers, thus Lin setting turnover records for most turnovers in the NBA since the ABA-NBA merger in 1976. For people that hated Lin, which I don’t know why people would hate him considering his awe-inspiring story, turnovers were heavily an anti-Lin subject of matter.

The following day, Russell, a few other friends and I went to play handball at the school’s handball court that’s located between the two gyms in the school and everyone was talking about basketball more than ever before. Never in my life have I ever heard Russell and my other friends talk about basketball in my life. They were following the league because of Lin. That night, the Knicks were up against the Kings at the Garden. Russell and my other friends were talking about how the Knicks can win against the Kings while we were playing intense games of American handball. The Knicks would then win against the Kings, winning their 7th game in a row. Lin posted a double-double (10-13) with 6 turnovers. This would be the last game the Knicks would win until they lost to the sub-par Hornets, even without star shooting guard Eric Gordon due to a knee injury, ending their 7 game winning streak with Lin as their starting point guard.

But that didn’t mean Linsanity was necessarily gone. The Knicks were facing the defending champion Mavericks. Newly acquired J.R Smith debuted as a Knick finishing with 15 points. Lin had another outstanding performance finishing with a double-double (28-14), but again with 7 turnovers. The stretch of 7 games the Knicks won with Lin was all without Carmelo Anthony, who was being questioned by reporters, bloggers, and fans about whether he could co-exist with Lin. I thought the skepticism was a bunch of poppycock. The Knicks lost to the Nets in which a vindictive Deron Williams torched the Knicks for 38 points and 6 rebounds. Now, people were forced to start treating Lin like an actual point guard. My friends, were starting to experience what it’s actually like to be a Knick fan. I’m sitting at my lunch table talking with friends and Russell is there along with 8 other people. Yeah, my lunch table is colossal. We were all discussing about the Knicks. I still couldn’t believe that people that had the least minimum interest in basketball were getting into basketball because of Lin. When people tell me that they’re bandwagon fans, I ignore those people because for once, people are getting into basketball because of this disciple among men.

At my school, there was a 3v3 basketball tournament that was being planned by the Student Council. Daniel, who plays baseball, but is pretty good at basketball as well, cordially asked me to join his 3v3 team. The other kid that joined our team was a tall kid that was taller than me named Sean. We had a few days to brainstorm a team name. All of a sudden, Daniel texts me saying that our team name should be “The Raving Linatics” after I shouted out that Lin pun one time during my lunch period. “LET’S DO IT!” I said. On the day of the tournament, I wore my Bernard King  jersey with a pair of classic black and white Chuck Taylor’s. Bernard didn’t wear Chuck Taylor’s, but he did wear Converse. That was the most similar shoe I had to reminisce Saint Bernard. Daniel wore his newly bought Jeremy Lin name and number t-shirt and Sean was wearing a Melo name and number t-shirt. “The Raving Linatics” reigned supreme. The end result: we won the tournament and we were all happy happy joy joy.

Where Lin started to really slow down was against the ferocious Miami Heat. Lin shot an atrocious 1-11 from the field, scoring 8 points and causing 6 turnovers, along with 3 steals and 3 assists. That game against Miami was the turning point of Linsanity. Linsanity was driven off of a cliff. Lin was now getting used to the consequences of being a point guard. New York sports fans and sports radio show hosts were acting like a bunch of assholes (like they do a lot) by saying that Lin should be traded because he had bad games where he was struggling. Um, so, he’s not allowed to have bad games? Ok then… The same exact thing was being said at my school by the dimwits who felt like bashing on Lin because of his ethnicity in the midst of Linsanity. Stupid degenerate futile assholes they are. The Knicks went on a 6 game losing skid, against tougher teams, like the Celtics, Mavericks, Spurs, Bucks, Sixers and Bulls, and Lin was getting his ass kicked out on the floor. Pessimism from Knick fans was back in the air. But the Knicks struck back against the Blazers and whipped them to snap their 6 game slide, along with getting former Blazers coach Nate McMillan fired the following day. The Knicks went on one last five game winning streak with Lin as the point guard, but unfortunately, Lin’s improbable season was cut short by arthroscopic knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. Russell, Daniel and all of my other friends were like “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” And thus, Linsanity had officially ended. Because of Lin, he boosted the Knicks into the playoffs as a 7th seed. Later, the Knicks lost to the eventual champion Heat in 5 games in the first round of the playoffs, but at least they won one game unlike getting swept again aka: a gentleman’s sweep.

Now that Jeremy Lin is a Houston Rocket, I would like to say this: I hate you James Dolan. As it says in the title of this post, THANK YOU JEREMY FOR THOSE FEW WEEKS AND THANKS FOR MAKING MY FRIENDS JUBILANT! Thank you for bringing my school together (except the racist idiots) for those few weeks. Thank you for being inspirational to so many people that had the least amount of interest in basketball. That doesn’t mean I don’t have faith in Raymond Felton, though. P.S, Jeremy, your first game back at MSG is going to be so damn thrilling. Once again, good luck in Houston!

Follow James on Twitter @j_griff

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