Linsanity is running wild in New York, and if not for other teams disregarding his talent, maybe it wouldn’t be happening. You see the problem is, the NBA is a league full of front-runners. I call it Front-Runner Syndrome. If you don’t start out fast, odds are you’re going to get left behind forever. If you don’t fit a certain prototype, odds are you won’t get a chance to shine in that league. It’s a testament to Jeremy Lin that when his chance came around, he taking full advantage of it.
Overlooked and underappreciated, Jeremy Lin epitomizes the term underdog. And most people in America and around the world can understand what being an underdog means, and that’s one reason why Lin has captured the imagination of so many fans. And now teams like Golden State and Houston, who had Lin and then released him, now wish they had taken a longer look at what’s turning out to be the biggest story of the season so far in Lin.
And that’s a major problem in the NBA. If you don’t make a big impression almost immediately, it’s like coaches and GM’s just give up on players. But maybe that’s because NBA GM’s and coaches know that if they don’t win almost immediately, then they will more than likely get fired sooner rather than later. With such a cutthroat mentality on the corporate side, it’s no wonder that this mentality filters down to how players are treated as well.
In the more successful NFL you see undrafted free agents, and late round draft picks rise to the tops of depth charts with regularity. Finding diamonds in the rough is an important part of success in the NFL. And fans appreciate that about the NFL. One day you’re a school teacher, and the next day you’re a star on Sundays. But in the NBA, they spend most of their time only looking for diamonds in the open, the ones already shining brightly in the spotlight.
The NBA has a developmental league, but it seldom uses it to actually develop its young players. Typically young players who don’t make an immediate impact are often released or stuck at the end of the bench for a year or two until they are eventually released, like what happened to Jeremy Lin. It’s hard to relate to the average NBA superstar, because their status and lifestyles make them nearly untouchable. But Jeremy Lin isn’t sleeping in a mansion, he’s sleeping on somebody’s else’s couch. Who can’t relate to that?
The fact that Lin is Asian adds even more weight to this story. You’ve seen Asians from China in the NBA, but rarely if ever an Asian-American. There is no doubt that Lin has had to overcome some racial stereotyping, which makes him even more of an inspiration. Where the NFL has proven that fans no longer care for dynasties, the NBA continues to try so hard to force them on us, as if they know better than we do what we want.
In the NFL, the New York Giants barely made it to the playoffs. Then they had to go on the road and beat the defending champion Packers, and then on the road again to beat the 49ers. This scenario would never happen in the NBA, where fans and media are preconditioned to believing that the front-runners are the only ones who have a chance at winning the championship. Then the myth becomes reality. But most fans don’t want to see the same teams and players win all the time.
We want the under dog, we want the compelling stories, we want real heroes to cheer for, not one man conglomerates who typically operate above the team concept. I hope this is the beginning of NBA GM’s and coaches giving more opportunities to players that 99% of the time they’d never give the time of day. How many other Jeremy Lin’s has the NBA missed out on because of this archaic way of judging talent?
Jeremy Lin is a breath of fresh air in a stale NBA, and I hope his success continues. His story would make a great movie wouldn’t it? I hope it has a happy ending.