Kobe Stops the Linsanity

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Apologies for the ad; you can skip it after a few seconds, and believe you me, this one is worth it. We're not here to judge whether Jeremy Lin is a good story or not. He's clearly the hottest click on the web right now. And even his future as a player is hardly cut and dry. Here's a thing I wrote for GQ about realistic, and yet still pretty rad, expectations for Lin. But people, this is out of control, and if you don't trust us, take it from Kobe Bean Bryant. He's a future Hall of Famer and five-time champion. There is no one more serious about his basketball than this dude. So when he gets genuinely annoyed when the questions about Lin's big games won't stop (he may not even be aware of them) ... well, that's a reality check we should all heed.

It's one thing to turn Jeremy Lin into a walking meme, or embrace the moment as one of some cultural significance. It's emotion, enthusiasm, and hype at its most benign. If we're going to talk about actual basketball, though, I'll defer to Kobe Bryant. That surprise in voice, which gives way to spite, is the real measure of authority. It's like Allen Iverson's "Practice?!", with the obvious advantage of being right. NBA fans and media may have dropped their lives to chase the Lin narrative; the NBA players sure haven't. Who owns this league? Who defines it? Maybe I'm naive, but I like to think that the final say, or at least the opinion that matters most, still rests with the athletes themselves. If they aren't the experts, or worse yet, we're fine with insisting that their pro sports expertise is somehow limited, then something has gone seriously wrong. Don't blame me, I voted for Rondo. 

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38 points and a Garden win later, I bet Kobe remembers Lin's name next time. This game would be some serious eucatastrophe ish, if Lin didn't still have the rest of his career in which to disappoint.

Meanwhile, Lin is spawning a whole new kind of youtube highlight video, which is: every moment Lin is onscreen - warmups, baskets and assists, replays, in-game interviews - strung together into a 10 minute summary of Lin's entire experience of a given game. It should be boring overkill, but it's actually vicariously thrilling. Some sappy, underdog loving part of me that I thought was dead really loves watching Jeremy Lin shoot free throws.

Nine days out of 10 I agree: let the players' assessments reign. But every 10 days or so, something weird goes down--like the Pro Bowl votes, say or this thing where defensive specialist and basically well-regarded hockey mind Bobby Holik goes off the grid and says Mats Sundin was better than Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, and Eric Lindros.

This would be like Michael Cooper saying 'Nique was better than Bird, Magic, and Dr. J, and belonged in the conversation with Jordan.

Which is to say, perhaps, nothing more than: even informed opinions can be flat-out wrong.

Some sappy, underdog loving part of me that I thought was dead really loves watching Jeremy Lin shoot free throws.clothing suppliers uk

This reminds me of the kind of resentful piece hipster music critics write about a band that's gotten popular.

I find it weird that you write about appreciating players for their style but then put forward Kobe Bryant's opinion of Lin's basketball ability as if it should be the ultimate arbiter of our interest in Lin. I mean, if you want do to that, fine, but be aware that Bryant has contempt for many players in the league.

Style and ability aren't the same thing. I am sure Kobe thinks a lot of my favorite players are clowns.

This video is all better in hindsight (and with the internet), mainly because Kobe was asked in the interview if he would guard Lin if/when Lin started having one of those games. Then Lin did start having one of the games, and Kobe did go to guard him after the spin move in the first half.

Yeah, pretty funny that Lin blistered the Lakers for 38. Kobe did not stop the Linsanity--not in the least.

Is "Linsanity" what he's doing or what we make of it?

I don't know if it is what he is doing or what we are making of it, but Kobe didn't stop either. I think there is a reason what Lin is doing is discomfiting to people, though.

His numbers hint that success in the NBA might have as much to do with team politics as it does with talent. We are told that the NBA represents a rigorous meritocracy, it demands incredible athleticism, the players are the best in the world. It's "a man's game," unlike what those college boys play, etc, etc.

Lin's numbers suggest that maybe success in the NBA is determined by who the GM and coach will allow to take shots. I mean, this time two years ago, Lin was dropping 8 points in a loss to Princeton. Now he's putting 38 on the Lakers, and leading his team to victories that had completely eluded the hundred millionaire tandem of Stoudemire and Anthony. Maybe the NBA is not the otherworldly place we think it is? Maybe every D-leaguer or decent college player could drop 40 if given the shots? Maybe the NBA star system really is incompatible with good team play after all?

I am not making a moneyball type argument. I am not suggesting that Lin possessed some kind of hidden intangible that no one saw. I am saying that maybe high-level basketball players are a lot closer in talent than we think, and the star is really just the person who gets shots. The same thing happened when Tom Brady and then Tony Romo replaced Drew Bledsoe and both started putting up huge numbers. All the so-called experts shifted uneasily in their seats.

I'll say one thing. If Anthony and Stoudemire come back and the Knicks start losing again (had lost , what, 11 of last 13 before Lin entered the line-up?), well, then it really gets interesting.

What you're saying about Lin's ability is pretty close to what Kobe was saying after the game. He dismissed "out of nowhere" and was like, players are players, some just have to wait for the right opportunity.

Well it's great that Kobe's taken these 2 somewhat inconsistent positions and that the second one seems to be a little closer to the truth right now, but I don't see what your point is.