Oh the Lin-Sanity

LinsanityWhen Yao Ming retired from the NBA, China’s influence among the sport of Basketball began to wane substantially. That was, until Lin-sanity swept the league. Now everyone is talking about the former Harvard Star and Taiwanese native, who has carried the previously slumping New York Knicks to four straight wins with him starting at point guard.

The question everyone is asking is “can he keep this up?” Will Lin be able to put up these gaudy numbers on a nightly basis? Will he be able to adjust to the return of superstar Knick teammates Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony? Well after watching him drop 38 points on the Lakers (and burning Kobe) at Madison Square Garden the other night, I gotta say, Lin can ball. Just watch this replay:

好球!Great field vision, silky-smooth jumper and the guy can move on the court. Sure he’s no Rajon Rondo, but it’s nice to finally see a guard representing China ball. But how did Jeremy get from being cut by other NBA backup squads, to starting for the Knicks? Here’s the story of Lin’s unexpected rise into the NBA.

The Legend of Lin

Jeremy Shu-How Lin or 林書豪 (Lín Shūháo) was born on August 23, 1988. Lin grew up playing basketbal in Northern California. In his 2005-06 senior year, Lin captained Palo Alto High School to a 32–1 record and upset nationally ranked Mater Dei, 51–47, for the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Division II state title.He was named first-team All-State and Northern California Division II Player of the Year ending his senior year averaging 15.1 points, 7.1 assists, 6.2 rebounds and 5.0 steals.

After receiving no athletic scholarship offers out of high school and being undrafted out of college, the Harvard University graduate reached a partially guaranteed contract deal with his hometown Golden State Warriors.

But stuck in one of the NBA’s best back courts sharing time with superstar guards like Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis, Lin’s chances to play were all but gone unless facing some garbage time at the end of games. Coaches tried to boost Lin’s confidence, creating a rule that “he could not be fouled in practice” so as to boost his confidence and “swagger”. It didn’t work out well and soon Lin was a free agent following the 2011 lockout.

The Knicks claimed Lin off of waivers in December of 2011, as a backup guard. Little attention was paid to Lin as super star players Stoudemire and Anthony dominated Knicks headlines. But then when the Knicks began losing (yay!) and Carmelo and Stoudemire imploded on their teams, it was time for a fresh breath of air on the court. Lin, not one to waste a golden opportunity, picked up the ball and ran with it. Since then he hasn’t looked back. Now he’s on the cover of ESPN, the talk of the twitter community and has been accepted as New York’s favorite son. Everyone loves an underdog story.

Time will tell if he can keep it up, but from this die-hard Celtic fan, I gotta say, ”加油,Jeremy”. Sometimes the best ballers are right under your nose, warming the bench, waiting for their chance to shine. Shine on, 朋友 and bring excitement and enthusiasm back to Chinese fans. With each win, the Lin-sanity grows.


I’ve got a Love that Keeps me Waiting: NBA

A few weeks ago, the prospects of having ANY kind of NBA season seemed slim to none. I’ll admit it, I had given up. I cursed David Stern’s name regularly and began entertaining the idea of becoming a Bruins fan to pass the time.

All I wanted for Christmas was the NBA, but Scrooge McStern and his fellow 1% of the 1%ers had other plans. The Celtics shot at another title appeared lost. Basketball would roll on, but not the NBA:

Then a few days ago I get a text at 7am saying something I figured impossible. Most good news doesn’t come that early but this bolted me outta bed. I hop-stepped over to my laptop and typed in E-S-P ….Hallelujah!!! The NBA was back.

Somehow someway (owners folding mostly) I got my Christmas wish. I was literally as excited as this guy (if you want to hear 5 new tracks from the Black Keys upcoming album “el camino”, click here):

Lets not dwell upon the fact that it will be a truncated season (66 games) or that we should have had 54 days of basketball before the Christmas day triple header tips off.

Lets not dwell on the fact that owners still got more than they should have and that mid-level players are screwed. It’s the NBA. It’s good f**king enough. I’m a lonely boy and I’m sick of waiting.

So gents, we’re back into the swing of things. Start researching players, teams and free agents (it’s gonna get wild real quick), start up a fantasy basketball league (my favorite kind of fantasy league), and most importantly, find some good people, couches and bars with flatscreen tvs to post up at. You’ve waited so long. Be patient. It’s just 24 more days and counting.

In the meantime, watch Lebron James wreck sh*t on the football field and be thankful Kevin Durant didn’t try out for the NFL:

Zai Jian, Yao! (Yao Ming’s NBA Retirement)

Father time is undefeated and gravity always wins. Just ask Yao Ming’s legs, knees, feet and ankles. After two injury-plagued seasons in which the Chinese All-star Center played only 5 games, and underwent multiple leg and foot surgeries, Yao Ming is finally calling it quits, and is reportedly retiring from the NBA.

While his status as a Hall-Of-Famer remains up in the air (we aren’t talking about the other recently retired 7 footer with more nicknames than P-Diddy ), his legacy on the sport will be a lasting one. This, in part, is due to his role as the only Chinese superstar basketball player to have great success in the NBA.

Chinese people absolutely LOVE the gawky giant and see him as a national treasure, bringing pride to a nation averaging 5 foot 4. CCTV9 (China’s sports Channel) always shows Houston Rockets games, even the past two years when Yao Ming was sidelined. For the past two years, Yao Ming has received a record number of All-Star votes from mainland China, when unable to play. When I asked Chinese fans why they’d vote for someone who can’t play, almost every response was “because he’s the best”. Talk about towing a party line.

Basketball in China is still budding, but the NBA is watched with fervor and excitement. Well, that was until Yao announced his NBA retirement.

With the NBA lockout an almost certainty, and Yao fading off into the distance, many are worried about the impact Yao’s retirement will have on Chinese NBA viewership and the popularity of the sport in general. China’s online web community (called netizens) overwhelmingly feel that the NBA has lost its appeal without a Chinese superstar repping the mainland (I will admit, he was a monster in the early 2000s).

While this nationalistic sentiment borders on the absurd and somewhat racist, many feel that China needs another superstar basketball player that young Chinese boys can look up to as a role model. Yi Jianlian is unfortunately not that player, so China get going on another government issued superstar. I bet you could have a Chinese “Rondo” in a couple of years. Hell just get someone so Charles Barkley will lose another bet and have to kiss the ass of a donkey again:

Oh Chuck, you so crazy. When are you going to get your own show with Shaq by the way? Shaq vs. Barkley: Country Kitchen Buffett Eat-Off anyone?

In the meantime, thanks for bringing basketball to the mainland, Yao Ming. Your presence on the court (and sidelines) will be sorely missed. 再见, 姚明!

Taking their Talents…to Europe?

Many players will follow Iverson's lead and play abroad if the lockout continues.

Basketball is an international sport and the third most popular sport globally (behind soccer and Cricket which is due to about 1 billion Indian fans). From Beijing to Boston, the game is played by billions of enthusiasts, with smack-talk and shot calling occurring in dozens of different languages, and on a variety of flat-top surfaces.

Amidst the urbanization that is changing the face of cities and towns globally, basketball has emerged as the sport of the 21st century–playable so long as you have a ball, a hoop and some concrete beneath your feet. While soccer was once considered the “purest of sports”, it has now conceded that moniker to a sport that can be played everywhere, by anyone.

And for that, the rest of the world has grown enamored with a game once played by upper-class, white males on hardwood floors in Springfield, MA. The game of gentlemen has now become a game of the people. Power to the people!

Well that was until the money-grubbing, big-business Stern Era that forced a lockout upon the NBA during one of its most popular (and watched) years. By forcing a lockout, the NBA business d-bags feel they can rein back in money from players’ salaries, and use that money to recoup losses by their own bad business prospects (after all, how fucking hard is it to make money off the NBA!!?! Sorry MJ). The logic is simply: force players to take what they can get, by compromising their financial security. I call it “courtside Reaganomics” and former player, Rasheed Wallace, unabashedly calls it a form of “slavery”.

But Stern and his army of cronies forgot one thing previously alluded to: that basketball is international. Europe loves basketball, and pays damn well for NBA-caliber players, even those that aren’t that good. Just look at Allen Iverson or Stephen Marbury. They got/get paid bank to clown on lesser players in packed international stadiums, and they know that everyone in the audience is rocking their jersey and shoe swag.

Superstar players like Deron Williams are realizing this fact, and the opportunistic Euro league owners are looking to sign one-year contracts with any players willing to take their talents across the pond. Besiktas coach Ergin Ataman of Turkey is even pursing players like Kobe Bryant! I think I’d hate him a lot less wearing red, yellow and white…

So much for leverage, Stern. If players keep calling the NBA’s bluff, I’d suggest getting satellite TV cause TNT, ABC and ESPN are just as mired in this lockout as the NBA execs. So what we’re left with is our players, going overseas to play because America doesn’t know how to run a basketball league. Just, another example of big business outsourcing American “goods” overseas.

David Stern Labels Players as ‘Unnecessary’ for Upcoming NBA Season

Unfazed and Confused: Stern tries to order a pizza at press conference

After declining a 100 million dollar concession made by the NBA players union to get NBA lockout talks back on track, David Stern emphasized his belief that NBA players, coaches and training staff really have nothing to do with the game of basketball: “The NBA owners and committee members find superstar athletes and decorated coaches as unnecessary and expensive assets for the 2011-12 season and beyond.”

This statement sent ripples throughout the sports community, as it now appears that Stern has finally and completely lost it. Making matters even worse, upon leaving the failed negotiation talks, Stern mistook Derek Fischer, guard for the LA Lakers and head players Union representative, for a valet attendant and asked an astonished Fischer to “keep her scratch free”.

Now, as we enter the second day of the lockout, it remains to be seen how Stern will run his fragmented basketball empire. Without players and coaches, only one option remains: suits will have to suit up.