There is something special going on in the New York sport scene right now. It doesn’t involve the Super Bowl Champion Giants or the beloved Yankees. No, for the first time in a long time it involves the Knicks.
Granted, New Yorkers reserve a special place in their hearts for local sports teams, but over the past decade the Knicks have represented yearly disappointment and failure with a constantly rotating cast of characters. This season seemed to be following in the footsteps of so many that had come before it. The Knicks were struggling and, according to reports, head coach Mike D’Antoni’s job was on the line.
On top of that, the Knicks lost two superstars, as Amare Stoudemire was forced to leave the team temporarily for personal reasons and Carmelo Anthony was sidelined because of a groin injury. Things were not looking good in the Big Apple, yet, out of nowhere, came the answer to all of their prayers.
Facing a lack of depth — and an even bigger lack of answers — D’Antoni gambled by giving point guard Jeremy Lin significant game time on Feb. 4 against the New Jersey Nets. Lin, a Harvard grad, has bounced around several NBA teams in his two years of play.
“Linsanity” was unleashed.
The Knicks would beat the Nets and then go on to win their next seven games. D’Antoni’s job was once again secure and the Knicks were back in the playoff hunt.
But was Lin’s success a result of a talented player simply getting the chance to shine — a chance many others don’t receive — or the result of a player playing in an offence heavy system known to be kind to guards? Truly, it is a little bit of both.
D’Antoni’s system, based on a solid foundation of pick-and-rolls, can make any guard look good in a way that most systems can’t. Lin is turnover prone, but that fact is often overshadowed by his high amount of assists, which is a nice perk of the system.
But Lin’s ability to win against the likes of Kobe Bryant and Deron Williams and be as successful as he has been speaks to something greater then playing in a perfected system; it speaks to Lin’s sheer talent. Undoubtedly, as players become accustomed to his playing style and frustrated with the accolades and glory that the media has been sending Lin’s way, they are going to play him harder and smarter. His tendencies will be exploited because he will become a player that opposing teams have a game plan for.
Linsanity will not last forever, as it is inevitable that Lin’s play will come back down to Earth. No one can be sure how far he will fall, but what we can be sure of is that Lin’s tale, up until now anyway, is truly a Cinderella story.