VaLINtine’s Day in Toronto: A belated commentary
We came. We saw. He conquered.
Jeremy Lin has been on a hot streak in the past two weeks. He’s been attracting a lot of attention lately and it only made sense for us to highlight him as well. You can’t ignore the stir he’s causing in the NBA. Six consecutive wins for the New York Knicks, 161 points for Lin in six games averaging 26.8ppg and 40 minutes. Not too shabby. (The Knicks finally lost last night but it had to end somewhere. Lin’s performance, however, remains consistent).
Lin’s performance last Tuesday night surpassed anything we could have expected from the 23-year-old sophomore, including a deep game-winning three over Jose Calderon and a stellar 38 point performance against the Lakers only days before.
The first thing I noticed was the overwhelming population of Asians in the crowd; how appropriate that this game coincided with Asian Heritage Night at the ACC. Among the bright red Raptors flags waving in the air, were just as many Taiwanese flags. Jeremy Lin was representing a demographic of basketball lovers so large yet so frequently overlooked. After all, before him, the only other superstar we had to look up to (all 7’1” of him) was Yao Ming.
Then, along came this 6-foot-3, 200lb undrafted point guard from Harvard.
He sat on the Golden State Warriors roster but didn’t see much more than bench time. The Houston Rockets waived him in the preseason. He was in and out of the D-League.
Just thirteen days prior, Lin was rooming with his younger brother and crashing on Knicks teammate Landry Fields’ couch. Today, he is crashing stat lines and supposedly even joining the MVP race.
When the Knicks, already suffering from a terrible string of losses, lost Carmelo Anthony to injury and Amar’e Stoudamire to personal issues, D’Antoni had to make a move. With his career on the line, D’Antoni’s decision was either desperation that turned into sheer luck, or a stroke of pure genius.
In Toronto, the Air Canada Centre roared whenever Lin touched the ball. A conflicted wave of boos and cheers filled the air.
People questioned if Lin could fit in with Amar’e back on the lineup. He answered with a double-double – 27 points and 11 assists – that was just short of saying,
“Why the hell not?!”
He struggled early in the game, accumulating four turnovers in the first half. He kept playing. He kept dishing the ball. He kept driving to the basket. Before I knew it, he was leading the scoreboard for the Knicks.
Lin handled the ball with ease and breezed past the defense. He leaped past big bodies for a smooth finger roll, weaved through traffic to scoop in easy buckets, and attacked defenders and dished the ball with precision. He controlled the offense with confidence and led the team the way a point guard should.
The Raptors kept the advantage for most of the game, but in the dying minutes Lin took control. With 45 seconds left and the score tied at 87, the arena hushed in anticipation. I thought to myself, “How crazy would an overtime be?” Tens of thousands of fans awaited the fate of the Raptors and the Lin legacy.
Jeremy Lin held the ball at the top of the backcourt.
The Knicks wound the shot clock down for a final three-point attempt by Iman Shumpert. The ball rattled out and found its way back to Lin with the shot clock almost at par with the game clock. It was Lin’s decision to make: he could pass it to Amar’e in the post or give it to anyone else.
Once again, he let the time run. With less than five seconds remaining, he dribbled towards Calderon. Calderon, anticipating a drive, gave him just a little too much space – and paid for it. Lin hit him with a hezi and a deep three-pointer.
Time stood still while the ball floated in the air. The ball glowed under the ACC’s fluorescent lights. We leaned forward, still hushed.
The arena paused momentarily in disbelief before erupting into applause. In the row ahead of me, a father held his toddler son and uttered words of Mandarin while pointing towards the court. On the court, the Knicks celebrated their teammate while the Raptors walked off the court, defeated.
Lin is unselfish, smart, and exactly what the Knicks needed. The Knicks finally guaranteed his contract the following weekend, which I’m assuming means no more couch-hopping. I bet his new house is spectacular.