Requiem For Linsanity; A Hero’s Fall From Grace

Photo: altered by Katchop

Oh the humanity! Jeremy Lin is no longer a New York Knick.
Whatever happened to the Knicks claiming, “we’ll match any offer up to a billion dollars,” as reported by Marc Stein of ESPN? How did we get here?
We got here because it turned out that the Knicks front office just did not believe in “Linsanity”. They preferred to let Jeremy Lin go, not so much of it because it was a “financial decision”, but out of spite, because he held up team owner Jim Dolan for more money and because in the end, that they didn’t really believe in Lin.
The New York Knicks didn’t match an offer to sign Jeremy Lin, AKA “Linsanity”, that was reportedly, $5 million in the first year, $5.225 million in the second and $14.8 million in the third. That was the revised, final offer given to Lin by the Houston Rockets after their initial lower offer. If the Knicks had matched the Rockets’ revised and final offer, they would have to pay a luxury tax in the third year, because they’d be over the NBA salary cap in 2014-15. It’s that third year “poison pill” of $14.8 million that angered Dolan and his staff.
Dolan felt “betrayed” and “deceived” by Lin when the player went back to the Rockets and said, “the Knicks will match your offer”. The Rockets then revised the initial offer to include the $14.8 million in the third year, and Dolan, known for being egotistical, stubborn, and very very rich doesn’t like to be topped or challenged by anyone. His ego won’t allow him to be.
So Lin goes to Houston, where another Asian player, Yao Ming became a star. They’ve got the infrastructure to plug Lin in where Yao was and cash in on all their Asian contacts in China, though Lin is actually Taiwanese, not Chinese. Taiwan is an island off the coast of China, but China still claims him as a national hero.
Either way, Lin calls Yao his “big brother” and maintains a close relationship. One that will only grow stronger in the years to come, since Lin is now a Rocket.
It’s strange though that Lin, who rose to prominence so quickly, performing at a star level over 27 or so NBA games, could be so discounted by the Knick front office, and by many of their fans now, when just a few short months ago, he could do no wrong. The whole world knew his name, and he was as popular a worldwide star as anyone at the time. Now it seems he is thought of by many as no more than a backup. How did this happen? How did Lin fall from grace?
Whether it’s a film, a show, a music group, an actor, a book, a team, a player or any form of entertainment, when something becomes “hot”, or “viral”, if it does so quickly, it seems to “burn out” just as quickly in the public’s eye, whereas if it rises slowly, becoming popular over a number of years, it seems to fade slowly as well. Why is this?
Sociologists believe that humans are by nature, social creatures. People want to fit in. Most people are not leaders, but followers, and as such, most follow what “influencers” (leaders) believe. Many influencers happen to be in the media. One only needs to look at twitter to find “followers” number in the tens to hundreds of thousands for top media influencers.
People, for the most part follow what they are told is popular, because “if it isn’t good, it can’t be popular.” Many people also think that if they like what others like, they will be more in touch with others. This in turn will make them popular as well. So people find reasons to follow what’s popular.
When something or someone becomes popular, literally overnight, as Lin did, it “goes viral”. Popular culture grabs on to this viral image and it spreads. Such was the case with Lin.
If we focus in on a person as the viral “image”, after this image becomes viral, there comes a high point where the image is either accepted as someone worthy of all the adoration or not. If this image continues great performance, the crowd generally accepts this image as worthy of its adoration. If the image stumbles, however, the crowd discounts him/her as a flash-in-the-pan or as a “one hit wonder”. The image then is downgraded back to an ordinary human.
A one hit wonder is usually used as a term to describe a music group that has one song that goes viral, or becomes “a hit”, but it applies to sports too.
Derek Anderson looked like a football star in 2007 for the Cleveland Browns, but after that one season, he faded into the crowd. in 1998, star rookie Shane Spencer, as a member of the New York Yankees hit 10 home runs in the month of September, and again faded out. There are any more examples in the annals of sports history. Could Lin follow in their footsteps?
In the form of stumbling, Lin was injured. But nonetheless, this clouded people’s opinion of him. If he was really worthy of all that adoration, if he really was “Linsanity”, someone almost superhuman, wouldn’t he play even though he was hurt? Would he actually stop playing? No, he would rise above a simple human injury and do something no one else could. He would perform just as admirably as before, but become even more of a hero, because he did what was expected of a hero and proved himself worthy.
Expectations of Lin grew with his legend. He no longer was a kid who rose out of obscurity to become a good player. He was now a superhero. The media literally animated him as such, featuring him in cartoons as someone superhuman.
So when he wasn’t a superhero after all, when he showed he was vulnerable, and got hurt, society discounted him as another tease, another one hit wonder, a disappointment.
Even before he was hurt, Linsanity was over. Back pages of New York newspapers declared
that Linsanity was dead. The Knicks themselves began discounting Lin, instead focusing on their best known player, Carmelo Anthony. At the time, the talk was Carmelo Anthony is coming back from injury. Now Lin will have to play cater to him. Lin will have to fit in to what Anthony wants.
While it’s true that Lin was a product of former Knick coach, Mike D’Antoni’s system, new Knicks coach Mike Woodson never seemed to be enamored of Lin. The injury just made it easy for the braintrust of the team to discount Lin.
So now in retrospect, many people think Lin was never that good to begin with. That Linsanity was a sham, Lin was a product of the system and was never as good as advertised. Many are angry that he didn’t play while hurt. Angry that he led us on. Angry that “he LIED to us” by not fulfilling his superhero promise. Such is the case when expectations skyrocket and a human being is regarded as more then human.
We build up our heroes, and if they fall, they fall hard, and no one wants to help them up. After all, they’re heroes aren’t they? They should be able to get up by themselves.
Linsanity was created by people, and destroyed by people. It grew out of spontaneity, and was destroyed by expectations. Whether it will rise again in Houston is anyone’s guess. But it could be the best thing for Lin as a player. He’ll be getting a fresh start, and not be under the glare of the New York media. He can be Jeremy Lin, the man, not the superhero.

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