Ultimately I should have guessed that it was bound to happen - my mother sending me text messages and calling me up asking me my opinion of Linsanity. And the first text message that I received from her was this past Monday, and then earlier this evening she called me up to discuss. Now I do think that this run by Lin has been phenomenal, which I will discuss in greater detail shortly, but I definitely had to draw the line when my mom told me that she would have to email/text me with a list of ten of these 'Linsanity' type descriptors that have been given to Lin's string of performances. And the reason for this is simple; I think that generally people are far less clever and far less creative than they think they are.
But I'll return now to occurrences of the last couple of weeks. I have naturally been glued to the computer/television seeking updates on Lin's performances. For me, more so than any other reason, it is because Lin is a Harvard guy. Now during my time there, I never went to a varsity basketball game, men or women. If I recall correctly, I did get dragged by a friend freshman year to part of a junior varsity men's game. It's only in recent years that I have started watching the team play on television. And the reason for me is obvious; Harvard was never as good as they are right now and have been in recent years, and it seems exceedingly clear that Jeremy Lin is the best player to come out of the program, at least since I've been there and many years before. (Let's be honest, I can't think of another Harvard player to ever play in the NBA, but I also don't feel like doing any research to find out.) It's exciting for me to see that Harvard basketball is actually competitive (they've been ranked in the top 25 this season!) and a Harvard player is actually leading one of the most important sports franchises in the United States, if not the world. It's mind-boggling.
As special as Lin's performances have been though, I do think that there has been some over-hyping of what he's done. Now Floyd Mayweather has created some controversy with his comments over Twitter about the Lin phenomenon. (For the life of me I don't understand why people use Twitter. It just seems to me that it's only good for getting people in trouble, and who can say anything in just 140 characters? And why would you want to even try to say anything in 140 or fewer characters when you can us thousands upon thousands as I am?) But does Mayweather have a point - would all of this hype about Lin have arisen if he were a black player? The answer to this latter question is that there is no way of knowing. As much as anyone tries to tell you otherwise, there is absolutely no way to determine this. I've seen a number of people, in essentially arguing against Mayweather's position, say/write that the hype would still be there because Lin is doing things that have never been done by anyone in the NBA, at least since the ABA-NBA merger. They have talked about the fact that according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Lin is the X number player to have X number of points and X number of assists in his first X number of starts. They have also pointed out that Lin had scored the most points in his first X starts than anyone since the league merger. First of all, I think that most times people start quoting stats that are dug up by the Elias Sports Bureau you should be skeptical of the arguments they are going to present. I'm of the opinion that the Elias Sports Bureau excels at producing obscure, completely useless statistics. What bothers me about the statistics used to trumpet Lin's performances is the very huge qualifier that is given to them. Each time that Lin's stats were quoted, they were qualified with them being in his first X number of starts. Lin has done an outstanding job (in my opinion) in revitalizing the Knicks (and I cannot believe that this is the first time that I have even mentioned the team so far into this post) over these now last seven games, but because this qualifier has to be made that these are now his first six starts in the NBA, it demonstrates (to me at least) that despite the fact that I am enjoying watching the run that the Knicks and Lin are on, the performances are being exaggerated. And the reason is that Lin had already played almost half a season in the NBA before these performances started! If Lin had these exact same performances, but had already started five to ten games beforehand, or he came off the bench ten seconds into each of these games, the power of these statistics would lose some luster because people wouldn't be able to quote their stupid Elias Sports Bureau stats. So to be clear, he could have the exact same statistics (all still impressive as far as I'm concerned), but since they didn't happen in his first X starts, the performances wouldn't appear as impressive because the Elias Sports Bureau wouldn't have been able to do any of their obscure statistics research. (Hint, hint, because other people would have had similar runs before.)
Okay, to try to wrap this up (and hopefully end the trend where each paragraph is longer than the previous one), I will once again say that I am thoroughly enjoying this ride. And this is mostly because I am excited to see one of our Harvard boys demonstrate that we do indeed have some good athletes that come out of Cambridge, MA, and not just squash players and rowers. Keep up the good work, Jeremy Lin. And thank you for giving me a reason to write this post and allowing me the chance to additionally demonstrate how much I despise the Elias Sports Bureau and their championing of useless sports stats.