Linsanity: Wherefore Art Thou?…..by old & in the way
This is a complex question that requires a complex answer. So please bear with me as this may take awhile. I want to summarize Jeremy Lin’s professional basketball career with some detail but not an excess of detail so you will understand not just intellectually but in your gut what he has experienced up to now and continues to experience on a daily basis. Along the way I will try to explain why Linsanity happened, where it has gone and how to get it back. There are reasons why people are who they are. Or to put it another way behavior is contingent upon circumstances. It is most difficult to succeed when you are fighting city hall in the form of bias, prejudice, discrimination and non-support. It is much easier to succeed and exude confidence when peer and supervisory support is prominent. In the particular case of Jeremy Lin, the basketball player, it is clear to me that he is currently getting little of either. In the dog-eat-dog world of pro sports it is damn tough to be tough enough no matter how tough one may actually be. To succeed at all in professional athletics it is clear that one must be very tough. It may be that there is no such thing as a professional athlete who isn’t very tough and strong mentally as well as physically. But perception is everything even when it is folly and based on nonsense. In Jeremy Lin’s case that very much seems to be the case. Why did Jeremy light the sky on fire during Linsanity in New York in 2012? There are some abundant reasons as I see it. He had the total support of a coach who believed in him and he had the luxury of teammates with the one exception of Carmelo Anthony who were egoless and had no personal agendas that superseded playing as one in unison as a team for the purpose of winning basketball games. In this milieu confidence and success embellish one another. In order to succeed at anything but most profoundly an activity as highly competitive as professional athletics one must be supremely self-confident. However, self-confidence is always buoyed by the support of those with whom one interacts such as teammates and coaches. In New York with a coach, Mike D’Antoni, who believed in him and supported him 100% Jeremy prospered tremendously and the sky was literally the limit. He set statistical records for total points and total assists for a player in his first seven starts that exceeded all who preceded him. This was not a fluke but the result of talent, confidence, support and a system that fit his style of play. Only when a dominant, false hero, “star” player, Carmelo Anthony, returned from injury time off to be inserted back into the line-up did the egoless success of Linsanity begin to unravel and become compromised. Only then did things begin to change from what they had been. Still Linsanity wasn’t destroyed immediately but rather just diluted and weakened. But as long as the right coach, right system and right teammates remained Jeremy Lin continued to play at a high level. It wasn’t until Mike D’Antoni reluctantly resigned from this toxic New York Knicks dilemma that Jeremy Lin’s level of play began to slowly deteriorate. Not because of his skill level and talent but because he no longer had the support and approval that he had under coach D’Antoni and the full support of all his teammates.
Jeremy has had the misfortune of playing for a succession of second rate, incompetent and ineffectual coaches. First there was Keith Smart who clearly wasn’t very. His bias was so strong that he cut Jeremy for someone whose professional basketball career was extremely short lived. Then came Kevin McHale who may be one of the worst coaches ever. This wouldn’t be so unusual if weren’t for the necessary fact that he had a HOF career as a player on a Boston Celtics team that won three championships. But it is as though he either has forgotten or never understood exactly why and how Boston managed to win those three championships of which he was an integral part. First they had a real coach, K.C. Jones, who utilized the skills of every player on his roster. They played as a team. There was no prima donna treatment for anyone including their best player, Larry Bird. Few of them were great defenders but they played great team defense. Coach Jones didn’t have an inflexible system that he forced his players into. Rather he adjusted his system to fit the players he had. DUH…..!!! Hello, Byron Scott but I will get to him later. Let me finish with Boston and McHale first. During McHale’s career in Boston he played with many different players. But all of them always worked together and played for each other rather than for themselves or for personal agendas. McHale had the good fortune to play with Nate Archibald, Robert Parrish, Cedric Maxwell, Dennis Johnson, Danny Ainge, Bill Walton and, of course, Larry Bird along with many others too numerous to name. These were great players but they buried their egos and played together as one with only one agenda and that was to win basketball games and as many championships as they could. But when it comes to his own coaching it is as though McHale remembers nothing from his experiences in Boston as a player. He, too, cut Jeremy for another marginal player who is no longer in the league.
Then it was on to New York for Jeremy where he hooked up with MDA for two glorious months and the only time in his professional career that he was allowed to play freely and spontaneously in a team concept and style that fit his skills. In this setting he was very successful. Only when Carmelo returned from injury and was re-inserted into the lineup did the one-for-all team concept begin to breakdown. When Anthony refused to stifle his own ego and the Knicks began to lose again D’Antoni suddenly resigned surprising even the toxic Knicks ownership. He was replaced by Mike Woodson, an assistant, who was typically yet another unimaginative NBA retread coach of marginal quality. He quickly marginalized Jeremy and slowly the success of Linsanity began to fade. It didn’t die but it became much less bright and dazzling under Woodson. The team concept began to breakdown as Anthony refused to do anything but go to his favorite spot on the floor and demand the ball for his iso moves and contested shots. He occasionally tried to play some defense but not often enough to matter. At least he tried some unlike Harden who has never even tried to seriously defend anyone as a Rockets player.
So Jeremy moved on to Houston and was reunited with McHale beginning a two year nightmare. It is well known what happened there. He was marginalized, misused, abused, scapegoated and dragged through the hot, humid, swampy, marshy Texas bijou mud. He was chumped by ClutchFans and barbecued by hillbilly rednecks. They showed no mercy. Fat Morey had him for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It was brutal and it was ugly but finally it ended. Unfortunately Los Angeles has been no better and perhaps even worse. Byron Scott was also a player on several championship teams with the Los Angeles Lakers. He played with two of the greatest players of all time, Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Magic Johnson, to apparently no avail. Like McHale he seems to have learned nothing from his playing experiences. The 1980’s showtime Lakers played consummate team basketball. Their coach, Pat Reilly played no favorites. Everyone was treated equally. There was no prima donna treatment for even Kareem or Magic. It was one for all and all for one. Together we win championships. Apart we win nothing. But as a coach Byron Scott is a biased tyrant and a dictator who has his favorites and his scapegoats. Guess who his biggest scapegoat has become and rather quickly. A real coach would adapt his system to fit the players he has. A fake tyrant coach forces his players to adapt to his system regardless of their ability to do so well. A fake coach benches his best players and starts his scrubs. Even a lesser player will perform better and with more confidence when he has the support of his coach even if that support is artificial. Likewise even a starter may play worse off the bench and lose his confidence when he loses the support of his coach. It is called human nature but it is really a learned behavior. It is a behavior we have all learned well.
It is not nice to blame the victim but it is nevertheless a very common practice. At Jeremylin.net there are many trolls who seemingly just love to blame the victim. They say that Jeremy needs to play better and ignore the constant obstacles placed in his way. They use Carlos Boozer as an example. They say he has continued to score his points and get his rebounds in spite of losing his starting position. They ask, “what’s wrong with Jeremy?” Carlos Boozer is not Jeremy Lin. Carlos Boozer is not the only African-American in the NBA. He is not under a microscope. He does not face the same pressures that Jeremy faces on a daily basis. Jeremy can’t even take a piss without everyone wanting to know why and what color it was. Carlos Boozer has not faced a lifetime of marginalization by coaches both on an amateur and professional level. He has not been discriminated against and received biased treatment throughout his professional career. Carlos Boozer is not Jeremy Lin. Blaming Jeremy for the fact that he played much better in November when he thought he had his coach’s support than he has in December when it has become obvious that he does not is blaming the victim. Anyone who blames the victim has inadequate vision and is seeing only the largest rocks while missing all the pebbles. Jeremy has said many times that he knows what he is capable of and so do I. He is capable of Linsanity when treated with respect and in the manner that everyone deserves. When he is not undercut by his own coaches and teammates he is capable of reaching great levels of achievement and he will again as soon as he is freed from the chains and shackles that are currently binding him. As soon as he is playing for a coach who appreciates his skills, supports him, does not scapegoat him, does not insist on playing him out of position and allows him to play point guard and run the offense Linsanity will once again bloom in full abundance. But will this happen and when will it happen? These are the questions. The answers are hanging in the balance and blowing in the wind along with Jeremy’s NBA career.
But the NBA does not care about Jeremy Lin. The NBA is a very, very large business enterprise. As such it only cares about one thing or actually two things. It cares about its profits. It cares about making money. And it cares about its own survival. If it has to kill a few poor souls along the way so be it. And right now the NBA is killing Jeremy Lin. It is what large corporate businesses do. They make money and they kill with impunity if necessary. Exxon killed the Gulf of Alaska and got away with it. BP killed the Gulf of Mexico and got away with it. Tepco killed the Pacific Ocean and radiated the entire planet and got away with it. Western imperialism kills third world countries for profit and gets away with it. War is a business. It is the biggest racket of them all. This was documented by General Smedley Butler in his famous expose, “War Is A Racket,” which was published 80 years ago but is no less true today. Will the NBA get away with killing Jeremy Lin’s career? Only time will tell for sure. In the meantime I plan to do whatever I can and whatever is necessary to get in the way and stop the NBA from disappearing Jeremy. I want Jeremy back. I want Linsanity back. I want the joy back. I want to weep tears of joy and not tears of frustration and despair. I want Jeremy back. I want him back now. So the answer to “Linsanity: wherefore art thou?” is to give him a coach who will trust him, appreciate him, support him, put the ball in his hands and let him run the offense freely and with a no prima donna team first approach and Linsanity will cascade back into existence to thunderous applause and accompanied by tears of joy and ecstasy. But will it happen? Only if the NBA lets it happen or perhaps makes it happen. Otherwise it is a crap shoot and who knows what may happen then? Seven, eleven or snake eyes?