Week two now and still no football. Not even a mention of the word on SportsCentre or the nightly news at 6 or on the radio or anywhere else. It is dead quiet on every front. The fields are closed and the players have all gone home. There is an eerie, stone silence in every direction and it’s starting to snow at an alarming rate, maybe ten or 12 inches at a time and almost every night.
This is what happens in February when mid-major meteorologists are calling for storms; it’s what we in the business like to call basketball weather and it will do when all the quarterbacks are gone…
Not much has been written this week about anything other than the New York Knicks’ sudden rise to relevancy on the back of a lesser-known point guard playing for a team of Gods. The newly christened Jeremy Lin has 171 points, 64 assists, a last second ‘no-pressure’ three pointer and has brought a reeling team back from the brink in seven short games. The Knicks are now back at .500 and there has been no mention of anyone named Anthony, a notoriously selfish and tantrum-prone player unaccustomed to not being a headline. For sure, all is well in New York for now but the imminent return of the $18 million dollar man looms large for a player of Lin’s new found stature.
Splashes in the pan are common enough in basketball; averaging a double-double over the span of seven games is something many have done and many more will do before falling off the face of the earth and into rural obscurity. Enough washed up one-hit wonders have made a fine living selling plastic patio furniture in places like Colfax, Indiana but a person like Lin will not be happy being one of them and neither will Melo. He is under the impression his paycheck is his passport to play and he’s not wrong; no team can justify an $18 million dollar bench warmer suiting up for slop work. But he’s a selfish prima donna with a bad attitude and a penchant for taking the last shot, whether it is warranted or not. He will not be inclined to share the sunlight of the Garden stage with a hatchling when he returns and he will cause his team problems and cost his fans games.
Consider this: The Knicks were 8-15 and looking way, way up when Lin made his first regular appearance. Carmelo Anthony disappeared to the day-to-day list and two days later the Knicks kick off seven in a row streak with Lin leading the way from the point. This, my friends, is not a matter of coincidence, it’s a matter of pure science cohesion and chemistry.
Many times have we seen the perfect paper team foiled by the five player, one ball conundrum; too much talent to go around, wanting all the glory with not a whole lot of give. The old-style Big Threes are gone, ruined by the idea that great talent makes great teams. The Pippen-Jordan-Rodman connection worked because all their names end in ‘n’ they each played a different role. Ditto Bird, McHale and Parish; Duncan, Ginobli and Parker; Garnett, Allen and Pierce. Each a task assigned, each a task performed.
Tell me what the difference is between a player like LeBron and a player like Wade? A table setter like Lin and supposed table setter, ball hog like Anthony? How will the Knicks survive in a world that has worked when a cog continues to grind the other way? When an unoiled piece is placed back into the machine? How will Melo respond when the Garden’s chants break full bore into “Lin?” And how will the Garden respond when Melo won’t share with their newly-crowned king?