Written for the Tuesday, Feb. 14 edition of Marquette Tribune.
Don’t ‘Lin’ch me.
I know I’m a bit late to the punch, but this whole writing one column a week thing does have its drawbacks. When I turned in my column to my editors last Sunday, “Linsanity” was nothing more than a typo for somebody with fat fingers.
Fast forward to this past Sunday and the only way you don’t know about Jeremy Lin is if you’ve taken a vow of social media poverty. Seriously, my mom hasn’t watched an NBA game since “His Airness” required a second hand for his championship ring collection, and even she was asking about the heir apparent to Tebow-mania.
But for those of you that may still be oblivious to the Lincredible rise of Lin let this be your Lindoctrination.
Jeremy Lin is a second year NBA point guard plying his trade for the New York Knicks. He graduated from Harvard — yes, THE Harvard — with a 3.1 grade point average and wasn’t selected in the 2010 draft. He got cut by Golden State and Houston before signing with the Knickerbockers and didn’t score double-digit points until a week and a half ago when he busted out, scoring 25 against New Jersey. And he’s white — Asian to be more exact.
As much as we like to pretend we are above race, let’s not kid ourselves. None of this media circus would be around if his skin was of a darker complexion.
That’s the basics. He’s the ultimate zero-to-hero story, going from scrub to stud in a week, averaging 26.8 points and 8.0 assists the past five games. He has single-handedly turned around a hapless franchise and made the Knicks relevant again. Now you can’t turn on ESPN for more than a minute without hearing about the Taiwanese-American sensation.
My personal feelings toward Lin are conflicted. As a devout Derrick Rose fan, I hate seeing inferior players get undue adulation. Rose is the reigning MVP, has put up these types of numbers for the past three seasons and would abuse Lin off the dribble each and every time.
Yet, I find myself actively seeking out Knicks games and checking box scores every chance I get. I want Lin to do well and have absolutely no animosity toward the baller or the person.
Why the cognitive dissonance you ask? Steve Novak. It’s as simple as that. I root unabashedly for all Marquette alumni to succeed and boy, has he ever with Lin in the lineup.
Novak has averaged 15.5 points and 4.5 rebounds the past four games after averaging 1.82 points in the previous 23. Correlation may not be causation in true statistical analysis, but this is beyond obvious.
Jeremy Lin is good for Steve Novak. He isn’t afraid to pass to the big fella who has been hitting treys like they were free throws in the “Linsanity era.” In fact, 16 of Novak’s 28 made 3-pointers have came with Lin at the helm, including a game tying three-ball with 20 seconds left against Minnesota on Saturday.
Having successful alumni is a tremendous boon for not only the athletics department, but the university as a whole. It forces TV announcers to bring up their history and ties to the university, and frankly, there is no better ambassador than Novak.
“I work out (at Marquette) all summer,” he told blogger Adam Zagoria on Friday. “I live five minutes from Marquette and play five-on-five with those guys and stay in touch. It’s definitely still my family.”
Having Novak as a staple of the Association’s marquee franchise is basically free advertising for our Jesuit institution. The only way I see this happening is to have Lin continue his Pinky and the Brain march to conquer the world.
So next time you see another ESPN special on Lin and feel like driving to Bristol and unplugging their satellites, just remember he’s helping the cause.
If I were Father Pilarz, I’d be ordering my “Linsanity” t-shirt as we speak.