Happy VaLintine's Day

As a sportswriter, a free Friday night during high school basketball season is rare. Last week, the rare opportunity presented itself.

In the chance there is no work, a free night is far from a sports night. No offense to sports, but the opportunity to hang out with a few friends or grab a movie is enticing.

The decision to meet up with an old friend at a local restaurant was made.

After discussing options for the night, the main idea that pounded in my mind and spewed out of my mouth was simple.

“How about we watch Jeremy Lin play against the Lakers?”



Take years of watching sports and add it to working in a sports-related profession, and you get sports overload. Sometimes, it manifests itself in cynicism. Other times, it’s represented by the unwillingness to spend a free minute watching a game.

Even if a game was watched, it surely wouldn’t be a regular season NBA game. Nothing against the season, but it always seems so predictable.

This season, younger teams have jumped out to hot starts. The Clippers and Sixers are sitting at the top of their divisions. It’s exciting, but seems like it will fizzle out when the playoffs roll around. In the NBA, experience wins out when it matters the most.

Turn on the tube and see the Clippers play for the 45th consecutive night. Watch Durant and Westbrook score in bunches. Clippers. Thunder. Thunder. Clippers.

That’s not the way it is, but that’s the way it seems.

To get back to the point, the NBA’s regular season really does nothing to excite the guy who doesn’t have a vested interest in it.

But Lin? That’s a different animal.

Part of the reason Lin is easy to embrace is because the guy’s story is pure. No one wanted him. Now, he’s balling, and he’s balling in the Mecca of basketball. He’s making the Garden roar. He’s making Spike lose his mind. He’s getting people who don’t care to care.

He’s making people take their night off to tune in. Despite cynicism and disinterest, he’s trumping all of that.

How's he doing it? He's a Harvard grad who plays like he's playing pick-up ball on the playground. In  Mike D'Antoni's system, he's allowed to keep the ball in his hands as long as he wants.

He bobs, he weaves. He moves in, he moves out. He dishes and draws double teams. He plays with swag. When the average viewer tunes in and watches him play, they may think of the style of Yao or Yi. Fair or not, his looks help create a perception.

One problem. He's American. And he plays like an American.

An Asian-American who holds onto the ball for most of a possession. A Harvard grad who plays with swag. It creates a mystique with this young man. A mystique that's so different, it's captivating.

For someone who follows the game and grew up playing the game, it’s exciting. To make a bucket at the Garden would mean dying a happy man. And here’s Lin, scoring in bunches; buzzing around the defense like a bee around a hive.

There’s no care and no worry whether the kid will last forever. Does he need to?

What he’s done is unprecedented, on the scoreboards and in the stat-sheets.

Keeping people home on Friday nights? To watch a game they stray from until the playoffs hit?

Loving Jeremy Lin is so easy to do.

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