To me, “Linsanity” was one of the best things that happened for the NBA in recent memory. The league had just returned after a brutal lockout that alienated a lot of their fans. This all took place in 2011, when the economy was still awful and many loyal NBA fans were sick and tired of millionaires jostling for who deserved to be more rich than the other.
Jeremy Lin was the “Rudy” of basketball, an underdog story brought to life by the New York Knicks. Sure he went to Harvard University and was a very intelligent kid, but Ivy League schools are hardly known for their athletics. Especially when it comes to people from there making sports their ultimate profession.
Many argue the reason “Linsanity” took place was because of how big the New York City market is. They have a point. When Lin eventually signed with the Houston Rockets, he basically replicated his stats for them for the two years he was there compared to what he did with the Knicks. In fact, he improved his outside shot from a dire 32 percent with the Knicks to 34 percent in 2012-13 and then up to a respectable 36 percent this past year.
But you barely heard of him when he was with the Rockets. In fact, any news that was reported was largely negative despite him holding mostly steady on production compared to what he did for the Knicks.
The biggest difference was that the expectations were different with those two teams. Lin was not expected to do anything close to what he did for the Knicks. When he got his big payday and headed to the Rockets, he was viewed as a legitimate starting point guard who would only improve over time given his young age. Instead, he mostly gave the same output he did with the Knicks. It could have been worse; he could have disappeared completely and looked like a one-hit wonder. That is clearly not the case either.
Then again, Lin was on a team last year with two alpha-dog mentalities in Dwight Howard and James Harden. And he eventually lost his starting position over time to Patrick Beverley because of his inability to stay on the court. When he was not injured, Lin still played pretty well for being the fourth or fifth offensive option on the team.
Now, with a new start with the Los Angeles Lakers, it is fair to ask the question if we will witness “Linsanity Part 2” this year?
Outside of Kobe Bryant, the Lakers have no real scoring threats. Maybe if Carlos Boozer was the same player he was seven years ago for the Utah Jazz they would be in decent shape, but he is not. Lin will probably be a primary offensive option considering outside of Bryant, the Lakers do not have a ton of guys on their team who can create their own shot. This is not to suggest Lin is an expert at doing so by any stretch, but he is decent at this particular skill.
It is unfortunate Lin could not reunite with his former coach Mike D’Antoni, who really gave him the initial boost of confidence he needed to shine in the spotlight with the Knicks. At the same time, Byron Scott is an outstanding head coach who hit a rough patch with the Cleveland Cavaliers that did not accurately demonstrate how good he can be when given the correct players.
The Lakers will definitely be a better team than last season. They might not make the playoffs in a loaded Western Conference, but they will certainly improve considering the quietly-brilliant moves they made this offseason. With the way major media outlets cover the Lakers, you will probably hear plenty of “Linsanity” headlines again at some point given the attention Lin’s team gets, but that is hardly his fault. He cannot control what the media says about him just like any other player.
I firmly believe Lin is due for a bounce-back season and that he will prove to be a capable point guard next to Bryant. He will most likely not have the same impact he did with the Knicks, but anything close to that will be a win for both him and his new team.