Well, I’m not a “-mania” guy, so the whole “Tebowmania” or the Vick thing after a Monday night football game doesn’t work for me. Since day one of my blog, my mission has always been to add some perspective, I try to be a judge – you guys can be the jury because they get swayed by emotion, I’m a judge and I’m not suppose to and that is basically what every rant strives to do. A lot of times I get called a hater or a cynic…whatever! I’m just not into “-mania”. Now, that’s not to say that all “-mania’s” mean that the person has no talent. The Beatles – there was a lot of “-mania” around the Beatles, but they were producing A+ work.
So we have a new “-mania” now and people see me as “anti-Tebow” but the truth is that I was never anti-Tebow, I was just “anti-TebowMANIA” because it was based on the wrong thing. I believe that Jeremy Lin of the New York Knicks – and that “-mania” has real teeth. So let’s go back to the “Tebowmania” which was the last “-mania” we had in sports, let’s break it down. So he led the NFL in jersey sales without playing a single game. It was all based on a profound college career, good looks and overwhelmingly, his faith. Tebow was sitting on a bench and selling more jerseys than Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady or any rookie from this past season who was actually playing.
Tebow finally plays and is statistically – how should I say this…terrible! The team wins narrowly and I have to put up with hate mail and “Tebow MVP” mail. That is a “popularity over production” story where things overwhelmingly not of sport, primarily his faith, are what makes the hype. I guess that’s totally fine but let’s call it what it is. Now let’s look at the Jeremy Lin story. Hiscollege career? Irrelevant. His faith? You and I don’t know what it is. Looks? I asked my mom and 10 female friends…average to below average. Now, when did he get popular though? It was based entirely on his play! Goes 25 and 7 against Derron Williams, an All-Star. Goes 28 and 8 against Devon Harris who is an above average point guard. Goes for 38 against the Lakers. So Jeremy Lin mania is based on play, performance, stats…I buy it!
Now, is it a bigger story because it is in New York? Yes! If he was doing this with the Golden State Warriors, it would still be a story, but it wouldn’t be this type of story. Is New York aiding it? Absolutely! But they certainly aren’t driving it. Promotions and marketing can aid a restaurant’s sales; the food and the service still have to drive it. Secondly, I think that Mike D’Antoni’s system is perfect for Lin because it is very point-guard friendly. Steve Nash was the most dominant player in the league under Mike D’Antoni…he was an MVP! D’Antoni leaves Phoenix, Steve Nash is still very good, he’s excellent but the trophies dry up. So is New York aiding this story? Sure! Is D’Antoni’s system helping Lin? Of course! But lots of systems help athletes but it still comes down to player production and Jeremy Lin is producing. Now, nobody is calling him an MVP – at least credible NBA analyst’s and I don’t think he merit’s it 5 games into his career. But it is a great story about a really nice player who is a perfect fit for a team that was lacking a point guard.
Now the question segways to the next level because he’s doing this without Carmlo and Amare – like Amare I’m predicting is going to love this kid because much like D’Antoni and Steve Nash in Phoenix, it benefits Amare. The question now becomes – and I was hearing this all day today “uh oh, Melo is coming back, there will be big problems…” wrong, not so fast!! My opinion on this is this: Did Carmelo makes the Knicks better last year? Yes, I think he did. They were horrible, got Carmelo and made the playoffs. Doesn’t matter if they don’t win in the playoffs – a lot of teams don’t win in the playoffs, they still have talent! Lakers didn’t win as many as they should have…but they still have talent. So I believe that Melo made things better last year for the Knicks. The Knicks’ problem this year is not Melo but the fact that Mike D’Antoni’s system is entirely based on a point guard…but they didn’t have one! They literally didn’t have a point guard.
You can’t ask a football coach – known for the option, to have an immobile quarterback and then ask a wide receiver to play quarterback and then blame the wide receiver. The reality is that Mike D’Antoni’s system is so heavily weighted on a point guard than any other system in the current NBA framework. Phil Jackson had his triangle offense, D’Antoni’s got his point guard driven offense. The man was asking Melo to be a point guard! You can’t blame Melo. The reality is that Jeremy’s numbers are going to come down because Melo and Amare are going to take shots, but the Knicks now are going to be a very tough out. Lin is a high IQ basketball player with a real game. He was an All State California guy, Fran Freschilla had him; he was also a John Wooden Finalist and a Bob Cousy finalist in college at Harvard, so the guy can definitely play. Fran Freschilla knew it; he had him as one of the top 10 college basketball players. Jim Calhoun a couple of years ago, when UConn blasted Harvard, Jim Calhoun said “that kid [Jeremy] we’ve had a lot of teams come in here, that kid can play with all of them, including Syracuse”
So, the question now – let’s get to the next spot, the question now is that when Melo comes back, how is it going to work? I think it’s going to work fine! I think it’s easy to paint Melo as the bad guy early this year yet as I’ve already argued, Melo clearly made the Knicks better last year and he’ll make them better this year, just not as a point guard! You can’t ask Melo to be a point guard and then blame him for the problems, he’s a wing player. So Magic Johnson, Chris Broussard and John Barry talked about Lin and Melo and the adjustments that will have to be made yesterday.
“Johnson: it’s still gonna come down to Carmelo Anthony and Amare on how they see Jeremy Lin .If they do not accept him, they may not make the playoffs because this is going to be the key – and make no mistake about it, when you got two guys in the game with ego’s that they have, they have to buy into Jeremy Lin. Broussard: Melo is the guy though, that has got to accept Jeremy Lin the most, cause Amare is going to benefit from Jeremy thinking he’s the Steve Nash type, cause when Jeremy is coming down the floor, he’s not looking for one person like they’ve been doing all season, he’s going to hit the open man and Melo is just going to have to accept that…” I do believe that it will work! There are a lot of naysayers that are blaming Melo for the entire mess so far this season; I’m blaming the fact that they didn’t have a point guard!
So, I didn’t buy into the Tebow stuff – and still don’t, like think about Lin and Tebow: Tebow? Atrocious statistically. Lin? Good statistically. Tebow? Struggled with basic quarterback skills. Lin? Does multiple things well for a point guard. Tebow? The defense often carried him. Lin? Has actually had to carry the Knicks. Folks, these are not the same stories! Jeremy Lin can play in this league, he is a long 6’3, can use both his hands around the rim, super high IQ, very nice distributor, makes terrific decisions, doesn’t really lack anything for a point guard in my opinion, he’s got a lot of things going on for him and they all work. With Tebow, we’re going 3 years in and he still can’t throw the ball into tiny windows…he’s a quarterback! That story is based on a lot of stuff that is not football. Jeremy Lin’s story is based on hoops, the guy can play! So I totally buy what he’s doing and I think that the Knicks are going to now be a lot like Phoenix under Mike D’Antoni. I don’t know if they are built to win a championship, but they are going to win a lot of games, they are going to be a great watch and are going to be a tough out. So I can’t wait to do field work tomorrow night in Toronto and watch him play the Raptors!