Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Lin-Side Story of Why Jeremy Lin Left the Knicks-Part 2

Please read Part 1 first

The real-life Jeremy Lin story reads like a modern day Cinderella fable that is too good to be true! Who would have believed that a homeless, journey man and career basketball benchwarmer on the brink of being cut by his 3rd team in a year would be given a last opportunity to play in New York? If that sounds made up, consider what actually did happen in this “Linderella Story.” Without superstars Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, Jeremy Lin not only outplayed the likes of Kobe Bryant and beat teams with his passing, scoring and even last shot threes. Our hero galvanized a group of scrubs into the hotest team in the NBA, saved the faltering New York Knicks and led it into playoff contention before he was struck down by a season-ending knee injury! As the world watched this story unfold on TV, in newspaper headlines and on the stage of the famed Madison Square Garden, Lin became one of the most exciting success stories in sports history who is beloved around the world! Lin's fans idolize him to the degree that they would never believe him capable of doing any wrong. When midnight in this story struck, Jeremy Lin fans were quick to blame his ‘evil stepfather!’ Many feel James Dolan deceived Lin by bringing in Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton disguised as mentors to teach Lin. They feel Mr. Dolan imported them to replace Lin who was soon banished to a ‘bad’ team in Houston as his ‘wicked stepbrothers’ gloated! 
No pumpkin or mice left in this story when the dust clears. In these two parts, I have endeavored to examine the wild accusation of Lin’s disheartened fans and to accurately separate the facts from the emotion. I welcome input from Jeremy Lin, the Knicks and the Rockets. I look forward to writing part 3 should they care to share their perspectives. So what is the truth?  As much as people want to believe that it was all James Dolan’s fault and Jeremy Lin could never do anything wrong, this is not a fairy tale. In real life, there often is enough responsibility to be shared:

The AP and Sports Illustrated both reported “Jeremy Lin loves New York. He wanted to stay!” There is little doubt that New York adores Jeremy Lin and didn’t want him to leave. But I have to wonder if Lin really wanted to stay in the Big Apple, why did he work with the Rockets to help make a deal that hurt the Knicks?

“How can we be sure Lin worked with the Rockets in its shrewd plan to throw in a $15-Million poison pill that would cost the Knicks up to $60-Million in salary and Luxury Tax just for Lin in the 3rd year?” Lin agreed to a previous offer that the Rockets were required to honor. But this would not hurt the Knicks enough. An extra $5-Million bought Lin’s consent to void it and he signed the second offer that would!

“Maybe Lin never realized that his working with the Rockets and his signing the 2nd offer would infuriate James Dolan so much that the Knicks’ owner would banish Lin for his disloyalty!” We are not talking about a low-IQ jock flying by the seat of his pants here. Although it is highly unlikely that the Harvard-educated Lin didn’t realize it, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. Lin pays his savvy agent and expensive lawyers to protect him. They went over both offers with a fine-tooth comb. Surely, they would be considered incompetent and unprofessional if they didn’t anticipate that signing the 2nd offer was likely to make Dolan irate and warn Lin of the consequences!

“Lin took a $5-Million gamble!” That makes sense. Rather than refusing to sign the 2nd offer and settling for $5-Million less, the thinking could have been that If Knicks match great, but if not, Jeremy Lin is still getting an additional $5-Million to go to the Rockets!

“Lin’s ego was hurt when the Knicks went after Steve Nash, Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton!” Unlikely because Knicks’ coach Woodson publicly announced we want Jeremy Lin back and he will be our starting point guard! The other PG’s were there to teach and back up Lin.

“Lin didn’t want to be in New York anymore!” That is also a strong possibility for a few reasons.  Lin’s best friend Landry Fields had just left the team for the Raptors. Starting for the Knicks and the difficult challenge of getting Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire to play well together may have been too much pressure for Lin. Especially when he couldn’t accomplish it when both came back after Linsanity!  

“Who can blame Lin for taking the money and running?  Unless you assume that Lin is a 25-game flash-in-the-pan that is bound to disappoint, and I don’t, this would be a very short-sighted approach! Although Lin will get an extra $5-Million in the 3-year contract, that’s nothing compared to his potential career earnings had Kidd & Felton taught Lin to be an all-star! Although Lin could have lived very well on $20-Million while he was learning, without this training, Lin could ultimately lose $100’s of Millions!

“The Rockets really didn’t want Lin they just want to hurt the Knicks!?” No Houston really needed a point guard and hurting the Knicks is just a bonus! The Rockets wanted Jeremy Lin because they lost all three point guards! Unrestricted free agent Goran Dragic went to the Suns. Kyle Lowry was traded to the Raptors and they withdrew their qualifying offer to Courtney Lee. Adding Lin would not only give them a starting PG, it would also help Houston sell tickets, improve TV ratings and increase merchandising. The Rockets hope Lin’s addition would similarly build upon the Asian following that Yao Ming started and even make the Rockets more a desirable destination for Dwight Howard to choose.

“The Knicks will be terrible without Lin because those old guys need walkers!” Although I would have preferred to see the inexperienced 23-year-old Lin stay and grow in New York, the Knicks are much stronger at the point-guard position now. Felton and Kidd should be able to do what Lin couldn’t, get Melo and STAT to play well and together. The three Knicks new point guards may not be young but still have a lot of thread left on their tires. These savvy veterans are also good shooters who easily can help J.R. Smith man the shooting guard position until Iman Shumpart returns from injury. The addition of Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas also provides defense and depth, making the Knicks formidable! It is amazing how much the Knicks management was able to accomplish in the off season to make the team so much better – especially given so little cap room. Had New York also chosen to keep Jeremy Lin, its fans would be campaigning for Glen Grunwald to be elected as NBA GM of the Year.

“Wow the addition of Jeremy Lin will make the Rockets great again! Sorry in the tough west, the Rockets, as presently constituted, will have a difficult time to even make the playoffs – should Lin play great! If Lin, who only started 25 games in his NBA career, gets injured or struggles, Houston will have real problems to keep the Rockets from crashing!

 Sadly, Knicks fans say goodbye to Jeremy Lin and wish him the best!  He brought his great heart and courageous play to the Knicks and we will really miss him. Hopefully, Lin will grow into an all-star that matches his world-wide iconic reputation. That would be a fitting ending for our “Linderella Story!”

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