Is It The Start, Or Not, Of Real Linsanity?

 

TAIPEI, Taiwan – It was supposed to be a five-week stretch in early 2012 when an overlooked kid from Harvard who’d already been cut by two teams took a missile ride to stardom in the NBA and around the globe.

It was supposed to be a fantasy-type experience that took him from sleeping on a teammate’s sofa to becoming a hero half a world away in his family’s ancestral home of Taiwan and the rest of Asia, a story so improbable that it cried out for a movie script. Shot, wrapped, the red carpet premiere already rolled out.

It was supposed to culminate this weekend with the arrival of the NBA’s Global Games to Taipei for a screaming, cheering, it-really-happened fusion celebration of Jeremy Lin’s journey with the league’s international outreach.

It was supposed to be the end of Linsanity. Instead, it could be just the start. That is, if Lin doesn’t.

When Rockets coach Kevin McHale followed through with his stated plan to alternate the former phenom and Patrick Beverley in the starting lineup through the eight-game preseason schedule by bringing Lin off the bench Thursday night in the Philippines, it was received by, well, Linsanity. The Chilla in Manila.

As the Internet is wont to do, a molehill in the South China Sea was turned into Mount Mayon, a volcanic rumbling in the Ring of Fire, to hear it told, that would explode in the faces of the Rockets and any notions they had of becoming a playoff contender, let alone champions.

McHale was being disrespectful, rash, judgmental, racist and probably didn’t like puppies, according to the corners of Twitter and Facebook that weren’t breathlessly keeping up with the Kardashians.

If McHale thought he was merely trying out different things in a meaningless exhibition game more than 8,000 miles from Texas, he clearly didn’t get NBA commissioner David Stern’s memo on the small, small connected world we now live in.

“I just alternate starting guys,” he said. “I just want to see new guys come off the bench, see how it works. We have a lot of new faces. I talked to Jeremy and Patrick about it. Both are playing very, very well. Patrick played very well and Jeremy has been playing tremendous. The first couple of days I was worried about him, but I tell you, about three or four days into camp he started playing really well, high energy.

“He had a great summer of work. He’s lost a little weight. I liked his shot. It’s tighter. He really worked hard all summer and it shows…All the stuff we talked about. I’m excited about having both those guys. The nice things that happened (Thursday) night is they both played very well. I wouldn’t get all excited about who starts in a preseason game.”

Of course, McHale didn’t have to get excited. That has been taken care of by the swarm of local reporters and cameramen who have hungrily chewed on the bone for the past two days, not to mention a world of worshipping, and in many cases, race-driven Lin fans.

So has McHale made his choice on who will start at point guard in the Oct. 30 season opener against Charlotte?

“I’m playing them in alternate exhibition games,” he said.

Does this mean McHale thinks Beverley is better than Lin?

“I’m just looking at different combinations of my playing to see who can play well with who,” he said.

Is having Lin and Beverley together on the roster a dilemma for McHale?

“You want as many good players as you can,” he said. “I foresee playing Jeremy and Patrick together also. It’s not a dilemma. It’s a luxury. It’s a process.”

Fact is, Lin will be back in the starting lineup to face the Pacers on Sunday (1:30 a.m. ET, NBA TV) at a Taipei Arena jam-packed with unabashed boosters. McHale, after all, can read a map.

However, the truth is that the Rockets and Lin might both be more well served having Lin come off the bench this season. There are all kinds of basketball reasons, not the least of which is he’d get more opportunities to score with his slashing style when he’s not the third or even fourth-best offensive option behind Dwight Howard, James Harden and maybe Chandler Parsons in the starting lineup.

Beverley’s snarling, in-your-face, aggressive style could also be better served taking a bite out of opposing point guards at both ends of the floor, setting a defensive tone the Rockets desire and softening things up a bit for Lin to strut his stuff against the opponent’s second unit.

Then there is the matter of what it takes to make a successful team and that is, after all, what it’s supposed to be all about. The Twitter critics might use their smartphones to look up McHale’s own career with the Celtics, much of it as a sixth man. They could search for @HallofFame and @3ChampionshipRings.

And despite that magic carpet ride that soared above the hoops world from January to February some 20 months ago, the rest of Lin’s NBA career is most likely to look more like the 13.4 points and 6.1 assists per game he averaged for the Rockets last season than what he did as a meteor in New York.

The whole experience might have made Lin a hot selling name on the backs of jerseys, a $25 million contract with the Rockets and a global marketing phenomenon, but it probably didn’t do him any favors in having to live up to that hype. There were times last season when you could practically see the burden of Linsanity riding on his back. There was likely a time when he worked, pushed and pressed to live up so much to the image that it held him back. He may, in fact, have come to believe he was Linsanity and the became the problem. It was when he finally listened to some close counsel to stop overreaching that the tumblers began falling into place and his game improved during summer workouts.

McHale might be not only helping his own team by using Lin off the bench, but giving a long-term boost to the length and quality of the point guard’s career.

Lin is a nice player who at times can be electric, if he’ll just let himself be himself and, most important, not try to be more.

“I’m not thinking or worrying about ‘situations’ or whatever happens,” he said when pressed again on Saturday. “I just want to work as hard as I can, earn as many minutes on the court as I can, do whatever I can to help my team the most.”

That will be the trick, to keep a narrow, purposeful focus and not give into the real Linsanity that could be just starting all around him.

48 Comments

  1. leo says:

    Lin should definitely be the Rockets starting point guard. If all beverly is good for is a defensive pest to opposing guards and cannot run the 2nd unit’s offense, mchale needs to find someone else who is ready to step up to the plate. Why sacrifice Lin or is there something else us fans do not know about?

  2. Mark Leo says:

    This looks like an inside job paid by Mchale and Rockets’s front office.
    So they will return you the favor later.

  3. Justin says:

    Jeremy lin is one of the best point guard in the NBA.

  4. Whether Lin plays off the bench is not that important during the pre-season time. But how do you know the rest of his career is to look more like last season than what he did in New York? In case you are not aware of it, the kid throughout his career has repeatedly proved his doubters wrong. Also, in case you don’t know, Nash’s performance was not that great when he was at Lin’s age. Being the sixth man is not a demotion–some Lin fans can support that idea. It’s people like you that keep saying he is just an ordinary player that are really annoying. You guys just never give the kid the credits he deserves regarding basketball. If Jeremy listens to people like you, he would have quit basketball a long time ago.

  5. Whether Lin plays off bench is not that important. The kid throughout his career has repeatedly proved his doubters wrong. You will eat your words very soon by under-estimating him.

  6. J says:

    start him!

  7. Smoove says:

    Lin was never that good. He had some great numbers in his first few starts but that’s only because he’s a good player and nobody had any idea how to guard him and what he would do because they didn’t have film on him and he’d never been scouted. A couple games after Linsanity, once people realized if you through a double team at him he’d turn it over, we started to see a different Jeremy Lin out there.

  8. Jeff says:

    “Lin is a nice player who at times can be electric, if he’ll just let himself be himself and, most important, not try to be more.” he never would’ve made it to the league if this was his mindset going in. bigotry of low expectations rears its ugly head.

    a 25yr old second year starter, who noticeably improved throughout the year last season (check his stats after ASB – after he fully recovered from off season surgery), and your advice to him is “hey this is the best you’re ever going to be, so just accept it and don’t try to do too much, ok?”

  9. Brian says:

    A part of me feel sorry for McHale but as a former PR personal he failed to take in tbe business significant of what these games means. These games has little significance on the season but instead a well planned out publicity stunt. He failed to notice that is baffling. In all honesty he has the responsibility to meet the expectations of the audience given the situation. These games to some………. or lots of fans held much more significance than just merely preseason games.

  10. okc2014 says:

    I just like the notion of “linsanity”, but quite frankly haven’t seen yet how the name came about. I think he will shine, however, this season because he is feeding off of the Dwight/Harden hype. I can think of 6 guards way better than him. Yes, I agree, he’s a great 6th man.

  11. teamsports says:

    Lin is doing fine and the rockets too…after a rebuilding process and an 8th seed in the playoffs I would say its a bit of an achievement but with the addition of Dwight in the rotation I’m hoping for a 2nd round playoff finish… or maybe conference title…

  12. Lexius says:

    This is the same dilemma when you look at the center positions, as you know ; Dwight Howard or Omer Asik.

    Its just Omer Asik has proven he is a starter on a team. Whereas Patrick Beverly is a rookie that was inserted into the starting lineup in last years playoffs.

    So if you look at in this kind of perspective, you are comparing Patrick Beverly rookie + playoff exp with Jeremy Lin proven starter + 2nd season experience.

    Patrick Beverly is great defender as we all know the Westbrook knee case and Jeremy Lin is not that bad of defender compared to the rest of the point guards in the league.

    I can understand why coach Kevin McHale would want to start Beverly over Lin, because there is not enough scorers and ball flow on the bench and there is Harden controlling the ball on the starters lineup so you don’t really need two players that can create the ball on a starting lineup.

    Take = Kobe + Fisher and FIsher is the catch and shooter plays defense.
    So Beverly is like Fisher plays defense and shoots the ball well, Harden is the slasher/creates shots.

    Lin can provide the offense when Harden and Dwight rests.

    Would I do the same if I was the Houston Coach ?

    If this gets the team more wins then yes, if its worse off than no.

  13. flabbergookie says:

    I wonder how far removed from ‘Linsanity’ we need to be before people realise that it was nothing more than an ordinary player having an extraordinary stretch of games. Lin is NOT one of the better PG’s in the game. I think that after this season, he wont even be rated as the best pg on his team. Not trying to be a hater, but he needs to show somw form of consistency before he deserves half of the praise he gets. Trading him for a rotational veteran or two with championship pedigree while he still has some value could even be considered by the rockets. I wish him all the best but i think that from now on he will just be an overrated, overpaid backup.

    Feel free to disagree with me, but at least try to come up with some rational reasoning for it rather than just the usual NBA.com spec “You nothin but a h8r !rockets for Lyfe! #Linsanity” rubbish

  14. eric m says:

    i think jeremy flourishes when he gets some big minutes and with so many scorers on the rockets it was inevitable that his numbers would go down last year . its a team sport so if he helps the team , win , that is all that matters . remember when harden got hurt last year and they played the spurs(overtime loss)? that was a good example of what he is still capable of on any given night . he ranked 20th or so in regards to best pg’s in league . he needs to just ignore the chatter and play his game whether he starts or doesn’t . i believe if you were to put him on a team that was lacking in good players , he would again have avg’s in the mid 20 points but with so much scoring talent on the rockets , no way he can be in the game long enough to score 30 points a night .

  15. jacobie jones says:

    Smart move lin an asik second team plus or starters doin dey thing lookout Miami

  16. First says:

    Kevin wasn’t being racist, he was just being stupid. One would have thought, or rather hoped, Kevin was smarter than that..

  17. Joe says:

    Why are so many having a conniption over Coach McHale’s decision? All he said he was doing was rotating the 2 PGs to evaluate how the team would perform overall. Lin has got certain strengths but so does Beverly. Patrick is much better at defense and Jeremy is better at offense. Starting with a stronger defensive player is a worthwhile evaluation.

  18. UnkleDaddy says:

    Lin is being forced to show he wants the starting spot as he should, it’s not like he’s benching Chris Paul, here. I watched several Houston games last year and Lin never played that great. He has to prove he is a starter.

  19. tay says:

    lin needs the ball in his hands, and he can’t do that when harden is on the court. lin is both a scorer AND a facilitator, but only when harden isn’t on the court. he’ll play great with the other starters, just not harden. you’ll notice last year that lin really filled up the box scores when harden was out with an injury

  20. Brian says:

    This article raise a few good points but with the exception of the Sixth Man comment.

    “The Twitter critics might use their smartphones to look up McHale’s own career with the Celtics, much of it as a sixth man. They could search for @HallofFame and @3ChampionshipRings.”

    The Celtics played Parrish/Bird/Maxwell and used McHale off the bench. Their starting PF at the time was Larry Bird. Are you saying that seating behind Larry Bird was suppose to be some kind of a sacrifice? No you just don’t sit Larry Bird for Kevin McHale – a rookie first round pick. Then they traded Maxwell a SF for Walton so they can slide Bird into the starting SF position and play PF full time. So I believe the sixth man argument is irrelevant here given it is a completely different situation; Kevin McHale was behind champion caliber players.

    • Brian says:

      play Kevin McHale at PF full time I meant

      • well says:

        …well said

        Jeremy Lin is not a starting player as soon even during the publicity stunt a.k.a. Linsanity. Good for Jeremy to get the big money and live more comfortably but the NBA and the Rockets are better off (from a basketball standpoint) with Lin on the bench. That’s ONLY because Patrick Beverly facilitated better during the short playoff presence last season. But Lin is best served as a 6th man (as others said) for his long-term (and short-term) benefit.

  21. Ben says:

    I don’t care who starts – Lin & Beverley are both clearly top 5 players in this team and the 4th quarter minutes should see both of them join Harden, Parsons and Howard on the court.

  22. Nick says:

    The focus always seems to be about scoring. You mentioned defense, yet implied Lin’s problems were offense when compared to Beverly. It’s ok to focus on scoring for almost all the other positions, but not for PGs. They are supposed to be facilitators. They are supposed to read defenses and create the best opportunities. Most often, the best opportunities end up being baskets for teammates. The best PGs know when to take a shot themselves to keep the defense honest. That’s why OKC seems to fissile out in the post season. Westbrook goes into 2 guard mode. The same with teams where the 2 guard “takes over” the game. It’s tough to win a championship without a top-notch PG unless a team is running the Triangle Offense. Of course Miami has LeBron who, although he is a forward, is a fantastic facilitator. Bottom, line, don’t use double standards to judge PGs!

  23. Bruno says:

    Lin is a liability defensively. Deal with it. That’s why Mchale is benching him. And good on him for having the balls to do it. Going in against the commercial pressures that got Lin the starting job in the first place.

    • craig williams says:

      if that’s the case, why isn’t harden benched for his atrocious turnstile defense? why aren’t curry, lawson, or other pgs with defense much worse than lin’s being benched? we all know the reason.

      • Bruno says:

        Lin doesn’t have a great offense game either, while Harden is one of the league’s best scorers.

    • craig williams says:

      “Lin doesn’t have a great offense game either, while Harden is one of the league’s best scorers.”

      that’s an awfully dumb statement to make, given how lin dropped 40 on both the lakers and spurs, along with 25+ on the thunder last season. looks like he feasted on hibbert and george a few hours ago too with 17. i like how you don’t really address the sad fact harden, lawson, curry etc are well known for their atrocious defenses yet are never benched. we all know the real reaons why. i’ll gladly watch you dodge again, though.

      • Micah says:

        Actually he brings a good point. While Lin is a good scorer, Harden is a top flight scorer. so while lin is good harden is great! Consistency is what matters. Yes lin has showed flashes of brilliance but thats what good players do the have flashes ex: jr smith. So his statement had more relevance than you gave it

  24. Karlo Garcia says:

    I think Kevin Mchale is planning Jeremy Lin’s career for the long term.

  25. James Lee says:

    Fran, how about show some statistic to support your view on why Lin should be the sixth man, ok?
    Oh, math is too much for you eh?

  26. MTina says:

    “McHale might be not only helping his own team by using Lin off the bench, but giving a long-term boost to the length and quality of the point guard’s career.” so why McHall doesn’t want to help giving Beverly a long career of PG buy using him off the bench if he thinks he is a great player? anyway thanks for voicing out what rockets think. If sixman is such a great position, why not let James Harden doing it again, he is good at it.

  27. pftb says:

    Just wondering if u have ever played a competitive game in ur life. Lol. They point of being an athlete and competitor is trying to always improve. The point is always trying to be the best one can be. With that in mind, saying it’s better for Lin not to do those things is like saying he should quit. Before the miraculous trade that brought Harden in and now the Lakers stupidity that brought Dwight in, Houston paid 25 million dollars for Linux to come in and be Linsanity. Funny how Line played better when Michael was out last season but that’s not mentioned. Maybe the coach should find a better way to get all his stars involved in productive ways that allows them to flourish at a high level rather than saying he shouldn’t have ever been a star or acting like Line was just lucky for awhile

    • LakerDodger420 says:

      who are Line and Michael?

    • Brendan says:

      really because if you asked a number of athletes including most likely lbj what the definition of being a competitor would be I garauntee they would not say to be the best I can be but to win a championship. no one on Houston’s roster has won a championship. personal success is great but does not compare ultimately to team success and the status that comes with being and nba champion. the best way for the rockets to be champions this year is by having lin off the bench as the article depicts the reasons why this is smart basketball. and I believe you are trying to say McHale not Michael.

      • pftb says:

        And u think trying to win championships has nothing to do with being the best u can be. Instead of asking Lebron ask Jordan and kobe who both have at least double the rings lebron has and I’m pretty sure they would tell u the first step to being a competitor is working to be the best u can be to contribute the best u can contribute to ur team. Lebron would actually probably say joining the best competition to stack the deck to win rather than being better to contribute more. Sorry

  28. bxrealx says:

    There’s no shame in being the 6th man! (ala James Harden of old, JR Smith, etc)

    • agentzero says:

      Agreed, he played well too, and from a basketball and team standpoint, it seems to work well

      • DaKillinDhillon says:

        Lin and Beverly are both good players but what mchale is trying to say is that Beverly fits better in the starting lineup because he doesn’t need the ball in his hands whereas Lin does. This stops harden and dwight from creating looks for themselves. Beverley is a great defender which masks hardens defensive woes. Lin is also suited better for the sixth man role because then he can have the ball in his hands because harden won’t be on the floor. And Lin could be like a Jarrett jack type but even better

  29. Mathuas says:

    Beverley, best defense PG in the game.

    • YoYo says:

      Ever heard of CP3?

      • Scooby says:

        There is also Tony Allen and Avery Bradley although Allen is a SG he’s still a guard which to me makes him qualified. Allen is the best if he qualifies.

    • tims1973 says:

      Beverly is a Euro-league-level 12th-man scrub. Sorry to tell you but the only reason that Beverly is playing major minutes is to make sure Lin doesn’t get big minutes and big stats. That is the ONLY reason Beverly is in there. I will GUARANTEE YOU that if Beverly goes down to a major injury, that Brooks, the current 12th man will inherit the 25 minutes a game that Beverly played, in order to CONTINUE keeping Lin’s statistics down. And in case you doubt me, last year Anderson, the backup to Lin was given the SAME number of minutes and after the trade, Beverly INHERITED those minutes from Anderson. That’s right. Lin had to continue surrendering his minutes to SCRUBS who can’t hold his jock, all in the name of making sure Lin doesn’t get All-Star consideration and the credit he deserves as one of the game’s better point guards.

  30. Eaham says:

    Jeremy Lin is still underrated. He needs the ball in his hand to direct the offence and he can’t do that when Harden controls the ball majority of the time. Its for that reason only I think Lin should come off the bench as well and dominate with pick and rolls wiht either dwight or asik and whoever else. He has a good playing style as well so he should get cose to 30 minutes a night as well even as a 6th man.