Sunday, February 5, 2012

The time is now for Jeremy Lin

By Caleb Li
New York Knick fans have been waiting for an unsung hero for many years. The truth is "the city that never sleeps" isn't always about the big names and the big stars. Patrick Ewing may never get the credit he deserved during his prime years with the Knicks, and even though he will always be considered an all time great and maybe the greatest Knick of all time by some, Knick fans were just not that impressed. As unfair as it might be, Knick fans just saw Ewing as a man who had all the God given ability fail to come through when we needed him the most. Yet you will not find a Knick fan who doesn't have great memories and love for Charles Oakley or John Starks. In some places they call them fan favorites and in others they call them overachievers, but in New York they mean much more than that.

We are a city of dreamers, living in a place that teaches us that anyone from anywhere can make it. To many New Yorkers, the Yankees winning in 1996 will far exceed their victory in 2009 because of how the team was built. In 2009 there were tons of overpaid and over-hyped players, while in 1996 we had many gritty and homegrown players throughout the line-up. This is the city where players compliment the fan base for being knowledgeable, this is the city that waited patiently for Donnie Walsh to slowly break down all the garbage on the Knicks after the Isiah Thomas era. Many people say New York is never willing to rebuild, yet we are the same fan base that hates the Carmelo trade, that still wishes we had players like Felton, Gallo, and Chandler. The best part of the 2010 Knicks was not the fact that they finally had a star in Amare, but the fact that the team played as a team. Basketball I.Q. and team play is all this fan base has ever asked for and we are not afraid to boo Carmelo Anthony when he holds the ball and continues to shoot well contested jumpers. We would rather see gritty Pat Riley defense over fast paced Mike D'Antoni offense. Effort matters and for that reason we heard the name Jeremy Jeremy Jeremy throughout the night in the "Most Famous Arena: Madison Square Garden."

For one night, Jeremy Lin was King of New York City, and although we may or may not see a moment like today again, I am sure all the fans there tonight will not forget this game for the rest of their lives. Jeremy Lin is the definition of overachiever. For the past few games we have seen flashes of brilliance, which has led even New York favorite Jeff Van Gundy to ask why he wasn't getting more playing time while commentating the game nationally on ESPN during this Friday's game versus the Boston Celtics. Many have doubted Jeremy's ability throughout his career, and honestly I wasn't too sure he could succeed at this level myself. In many games last year for Golden State, it was clear that Jeremy needed to improve a lot before he would make a big impact But like times before, he showed that improvement tonight. Just like he proved an Asian American could play at a high level in high school ball only to receive zero D1 scholarships. Harvard took a chance and gave him the chance to play at the D1 level only to see Lin shock the world in games against Boston College and the University of Connecticut. Again no one gave Lin a chance when it came to the NBA draft, but lucky for Jeremy, a man in the Dallas Mavericks system invited him to play on their summer league team. This led to just another signature moment in Lin's career when he was given the chance to match up with that year's number one pick John Wall. Jeremy took full advantage and had his best performance of that summer season.

The Golden State Warriors signed him, and his childhood dream was finally a reality. I am sure many believed this wonderful story was coming to an end when we saw Lin waived by two teams at the start of this season, yet thank God the Knicks decided to take a chance. Maybe it was the fact that Landry Fields, the starting shooting guard of the Knicks knew him well from their days practicing together during the off seasons, or maybe D'Antoni actually could see Jeremy Lin run his pick and roll offense. Whatever it was, Jeremy had a new team at least until Baron Davis became healthy. Lin was the 4th point guard on the depth chart, and saw close to no playing time. It came to the point where he was sent to the developmental league, but that might have been the best move of his career. Lin in his one game in the D-league had a triple double and completely dominated, and with the continual struggles of the other point guards, he finally got meaningful minutes against the Houston Rockets.

Today, Jeremy Lin had his first signature performance in the NBA, and Knick fans were cheering harder than ever the moment he stepped on the court. This is that hero we have been waiting for, and this is exactly what we need in New York. Only recently, one of New York's own Asian Americans committed suicide after intense bullying and racial abuse while in the military. New York has always been at the forefront of diversity and it is a city that embraces all nationalities and cultures. Today, we saw a fan base that didn't care about race or color, but one that just saw a hard working basketball player with the effort and will to win. Today, Jeremy Lin outplayed one of the greatest point guards in the world. Today, the Knicks won because of a player that is paid well under a million dollars while our 20 plus million player Carmelo watched from the bench. Not many can say their name was chanted through the night in MSG and even less can say the MSG staff played a song (Pearl Jam's "Jeremy") in your honor. (Today's Game) I truly hope Jeremy Lin continues to receive meaningful minutes and even possibly starts. Nevertheless if this ride ends tonight, from every Asian American and Knick fan I want to say thank you. Once again we can have a reason to keep believing that in NYC, any dream can be a reality.


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