I had a productive discussion with
@robinlundberg, who I sincerely think is one of the most perceptive sports media people out there, and it got me thinking of an alternative interpretation to Coach Scott’s odd behavior/statements regarding Lin/Price. In my previous article, I proposed that his odd comments may be because he’s playing “media games”, but for whatever reason I didn’t touch on the fact that he could also be playing mind games. I’m actually really surprised by my own omission of this alternative explanation, because I’m very interested in mind games and it’s usually pretty top of mind for me. Admittedly, I may have been too “blinded” to this alternative explanation due to my anger at the whole disturbing notion of it all. Fortunately, @robinlundberg brought it up to me with the following tweet:
When Coach Scott was hired and all the way up to until very recently, Scott has been enthusiastically positive about Jeremy Lin (and it appeared to be genuine), as I’ve discussed in previous articles. He also appeared to have a good understanding of Lin’s game. There is one comment in particular about Lin that Scott continues to reiterate that I’d like to highlight here. One thing that Scott has said over and over about Lin is that Lin is going to have a chip on his shoulder, because he lost his starting spot in Houston. And Scott sees this as a very positive thing.
An alternative interpretation to the odd pivot that Scott has made about Lin could be that Scott wants to keep this chip on Lin’s shoulder as much as he can until Lin becomes the starter. (I think Scott actually wants to keep this chip on Lin’s shoulder permanently, but it may just take on different forms once (if) Lin becomes the starter. But that’s probably another discussion.)
But the fact that Scott wants to keep a chip on Lin’s shoulder could possibly explain him praising Lin less and less in post game interviews and him echoing some of the same things McHale said last season. Now, it’s debatable whether or not this is a good way to motivate Lin, but I think it may fit Scott’s personality, being old-school and hard-nosed.
One evidence why it could be a good tactic is Lin played extremely well versus Sacramento and I have no doubt in my mind Lin was thinking that he was playing for his starting job. I can tell from Lin’s post game interview that he was very annoyed that he has to fight for his starting job again. It was the least happy I’d seen him in LA and he was ALL business.
Lin played like he did back in NYC (when he was fighting for his career), except more polished, skilled and composed. But I guess you can argue that Lin would have played just as well if he didn’t think he was fighting for his job (since he felt he needed to step things up without Kobe on the floor). I guess we’ll never know. But the fact to me is that Lin did feel like he was fighting for his starting job in the game versus the Kings. Whether or not this is what motivated him to play the way he did is up for debate.
Anyway, so if I was to go into Scott’s mind, he’s thinking that his task is to keep the chip on Lin’s shoulder and at the same time bolster Price’s confidence, who’s a journeyman point guard for which no one has much expectations. Luckily for Scott, he can accomplish both tasks simultaneously with what he has been saying very recently to the media.
Anyway, just proposing an alternative explanation for Scott’s odd behavior. I’m not saying I buy into this alternative explanation myself (nor am I saying I don’t buy into this alternative explanation), But I thought I’d throw it out there to see what you all think. That being said, this explanation does kind of help piece things together nicely for me. Everything kind of all fits. Like how Scott was very enthusiastic about Lin and appeared to understand Lin’s game early on and has suddenly cooled on Lin as of late. And it also goes along with the idea that Scott doesn’t appear to be an ignorant person. In fact, I had been very happy about the way Scott thinks, up until these very recent comments about Lin/Price.
I think, at least, with time we may be able to piece things together retrospectively and figure out if Scott is a Lin doubter or if he’s just playing mind games which he thinks will motivate both Lin and Price.
Right now, I think Scott has to start Lin on opening day due to the circumstances with Price. Now, if Price is healthy again and Scott goes back to starting Price, then it is very clear that Scott is a Jeremy Lin doubter. If he sticks with Jeremy Lin, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he was not a Lin doubter (at the very point in time when he expressed conflict about Lin/Price). To figure that out would take more nuanced investigation and we may never figure it out. But I sense that that is not important to Lin fans, as long as he’s willing to change his mind from being a Lin doubter to being a Lin believer. At the very least, we’ll know in real-time whether or not Scott is a Jeremy Lin doubter as the season moves along. And, for Lin fans, that’s what’s important, anyway.