The New York Knicks decision to not sign the Houston Rocket’s offer sheet to Jeremy Lin was an emotional “don’t mess with me” decision by Knicks Boss James Dolan: Nothing more, and nothing less.
Ego trumped simple logic as previous economic arguments against signing Lin have been nullified in recent days with a slew of articles here, here, here, and here. So have notions that Lin’s signing might inhibit dreams of Chris Paul.
Whether Lin “did it to himself” during his contract renegotiation with Houston is only a useful explanation if talking to Jeremy Lin. The FINAL decision rested with James Dolan. It is Dolan who ultimately “did it to me” and “did it to Knick fans” who wanted Lin to remain a Knick.
As a Knick fan, I expect executives to put the very best basketball team on the floor, or at least the DESIRE to do so. Next year The Knicks will put a lesser basketball team on the floor.
But as many have already pointed out: the arguments against signing Lin are emotional ones since the Knicks lose absolutely nothing by signing Lin. Just as starry eyed Linsanity lovers had their Linflated opinions based on emotion, so did Lin’s biggest critics — perhaps even as a direct response to the original love affair with Lin whose public displays of affection proved just mildly nauseating.
Ultimately, both Lin’s extreme lovers and his extreme critics are guilty of excess. We can talk all day about Lin’s deficiencies, but I was at that Wizards game sitting in the 10th row when I personally saw Lin break the ankles of a very speedy John Wall. I know for a fact that you can’t teach that no matter how many hours you spend in the gym. You just do not give away that first step and many other attribures of a 23 year old, and receive nothing in return.
You just don’t do it. You play that card. If your hand busts, then so be it. But you play that card. Period.
Believe me, on a meritocracy, justice, and social level, I did not want Lin to resign with the Knicks. I did not want Lin getting more credit for wins than he deserved – which he surely would. I did not want Carmelo unfairly getting all the blame for any losses despite clearly being our best player. I did not want our disgusting New York tabloid media engaging in racially-driven story-lines of Lin as savior and Melo as selfish that would be eaten up by too many ignorant fans who prefer fairy tales over championships.
Lin’s NBA stereotype-breaking as an Asian-American has always been a wonderful aspect, but not at the expense of a counter-narrative based more on skin over skill. Had Lin been signed, I was prepared to vigorously fight such media battles as I recently did when Steve Nash got a free loyalty pass over Ray Allen.
And yet, as a lifelong Knick fan, those very strong feelings were still trumped by my desire to put the very best team on the floor on a team that does not even have a suitable shooting guard to begin next season (you are Linsane if you think JR Smith will work in this starting line-up).
Because I have so much respect for folks that were in disagreement about signing Lin, I found myself searching for reasons why so many astute basketball minds had it wrong. It always came back to that word: EMOTION.
Dolan himself, and too many Knick fans let emotions cloud their thinking like Whitney Houston. That emotion could possibly be a(n):
1) Exaggerated counter-response to an exaggerated “Linsanity”;
2) Negative reaction to “how Lin handled the negotiations”;
3) Moral reaction to the contract itself given his brief body of work;
4) Sense of unfairness for superior players receiving much less money; or
5) Subconscious stereotyping of Lin as an Asian-American that over-scrutinized his flaws, and under-valued his assets.
6) Subconscious defense of African-American players being falsely criticized to prop Lin up as a false Horatio-Alger hero
It’s hard to speculate exactly which emotion(s) are at play, but I do know that support for yesterday’s decision is not based on basketball logic. Instead, a Larry Brownesque mantra seeped into this Lin affair: it wasn’t enough to resign Lin, but he had to be resigned “the right way”. Once again, Knick wins will be sacrificed for another “teachable moment”.
I think what bothered me most is that I suspect that during the last three days, James Dolan was gaging the wind for mass reaction, and what should have been a universal negative response forcing Dolan’s hand was a mixed one by media and fans. So in that sense, I see the emotional flaws of Dolan, media, and Knicks Fanatics everywhere as one and the same. Dolan didn’t make the final call — WE made it!
If time shows that I am wrong about Lin as a valuable contributor (starter or back-up), I promise to offer an extended apology to all those I may have offended by politely implying that they knew absolutely nothing about life, liberty, and the pursuit of Knick happiness.
But today, in my self-assured and perhaps self-absorbed world, I simply see any Knick fan who disagrees with me as wearing a Miami Heat jersey.
So please forgive me if it takes a little time before it turns back to orange and blue.