I love sports. I love everything about it, from the thrill of victory to the agony of defeat. I have loved sports since picking up a football back in Bladen County, North Carolina many years ago. We learn such a great deal from sport and along the way we develop a point of view towards them. I have discovered within my time as a sports writer that the battle between fandom and unbiased fact based analysis is an everlasting struggle. There are a few events in the last few days to remind me of just how hard some people have trouble deciphering between the two.
Jeremy Lin is the new sensation that has taken the NBA and turned it on its ear. Unless you have been under a rock for the past few weeks, he is the current starting point guard for the New York Knicks. Since Lin took over as a starter, the Knicks are 8-1 and has “Big Apple Basketball” relevant again. It is a great feel good story, especially considering he is not the familiar face you typically see in an NBA uniform, being Asian-American, and graduating from Harvard. I imagine judging by the reaction from long-time New York Knick Superfan Spike Lee, as long as they continue winning Lin could be green!
Out of this feel good story, some good, bad, and ugly things about sport have emerged or reared its ugly head again. It has brought about some critical comparison, racism, and outrageous fandom. Since Mr. Lin has taken over the sports world it was inevitable that someone compare him to another sports media sensation….Tim Tebow. Tebow was the most prevalent issue in sports media for a great part of the football season. It seemed that everyone virtually poked, prodded, then analyzed who Tebow was, but that is where the comparisons between the two stop. Lin, in only a few games has proven to be a factor in playing his position. Although he was not the regular starter, Coach Mike D’Antoni appears not to have altered much of what the Knicks already do in comparison to the Denver Broncos having full-scale changes to the offense to fit Tim Tebow’s skill set.
Never good in sport, where everything is meant to be based on competition, Jeremy Lin’s race has played a factor in media coverage. From racial stereotypes about his anatomy on social media to overt racial slurs in major sports headlines, racism is still something that comes up when someone does not appear to fall under the status quo. Alongside of the those comparisons appear the lack of objectivity by fans who want the New York Knicks relevant driving media and media heads who throw fact based analysis out the window for the sake of what is hot.
Jeremy Lin is the new sensation right now. Whether or not someone likes or dislikes his game is really besides the point, especially when any news is good news. However, to make blanket comparisons to Hall of Fame Player’s are just a bit premature. An example of this is an ESPN stat compared Lin and Hall of Famer Magic Johnson. It compared between the two how much faster Lin had a 14 assist game, taking Johnson 75 games to reach that feat compared to Lin’s eight and it took Lin only three games to score 38 or more points in a game compared to Johnson’s 106. So what exactly does that mean, Jeremy Lin will be better than Magic Johnson….RIGHT? The truth is you can get numbers to say what you want them to, but at the end of the day we, including myself, give too much credit to an individual guiding an entire team. Jeremy Lin is the hottest thing on the street right now but the sustainability has yet to be determined.
Jamie Walker can be reached through email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through Twitter @coachjdub21.