Kallas: David Stern (Almost) Gets It Right On Jeremy Lin
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By Steve Kallas
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Yeah, the groundswell was amazing to bring Jeremy Lin to the All-Star Game this year.
When first asked about it, Commissioner David Stern, who should have known better, gave a resounding “No” when asked whether Lin would be in the All-Star Game, even no to the Rising Stars Game (as absurd as that sounds). Presumably, someone with a brain got to the commissioner and Lin was named to play in the Rising Stars Game.
HOW FUNNY IS THAT?
Very funny. Why? Well, the NBA has just turned the “real” (for lack of a better term) All-Star Game into a second-class citizen by putting Lin in the secondary game, not the primary one. Almost all of it is irrelevant (including the dunk contest, which, for years now, no longer has the best dunkers (i.e., no Blake Griffin this year – where have you gone, Dr. J, a (basketball) nation turns its lonely eyes to you)). But you now have a situation where the former Rookies against Sophomores Game has been transformed to a game where sides have been chosen up (Team Shaq, Team Barkley).
There’s nothing wrong with that, but the NBA, by only going half-way (better than no way) with Jeremy Lin, now causes the odd occurrence where the two biggest attractions in the NBA right now (Jeremy Lin, Blake Griffin, in that order) are playing in the second (as opposed to the first) All-Star Game.
One could make a case that the ratings for the supposed “JV” All-Star Game will be higher than the “Varsity” All-Star Game due to the appearance of Jeremy Lin (Blake Griffin, as of today, is scheduled to play in both).
HOW COULD THE COMMISSSIONER MISS THE OBVIOUS?
Well, there have actually been articles written backing the Commissioner’s original decision to not allow Lin in either game, citing things like integrity of the process and other absurdities. The reality is the NBA All-Star Game has long been an irrelevant exhibition game (once upon a time, the All-Star games in basketball and, especially, baseball, actually meant something) and to not see this (international, something many of us are sick of hearing about) opportunity was inexplicable.
They should have put Jeremy Lin in the real All-Star Game. By putting him in the “JV” game, the NBA elevated the “JV” game above the “Varsity” game.
HOW ABOUT THE CONTINUING DEBATE AS TO WHETHER LIN IS A FLASH IN THE PAN?
Hard to believe it continues. What Lin has that isn’t going away is NBA quickness, a way above the normal NBA basketball IQ, and an ability to already play the pick and roll better than most NBA point guards. He also has a toughness on the court that he didn’t learn at Harvard. What might tail off is his shooting (he certainly has to improve his free throw shooting) but it’s obvious (despite comments by people like Cedric Maxwell) that this kid is in the league to stay.
CAN’T GO LEFT?
Another joke. Jeremy Lin goes left better than many other NBA right-handed point guards right now. If “experts” have to go to this as a criticism, than he really is here to stay. Every right-handed point guard needs to work on going left. Every left-handed point guard needs to work on going right. But just watch Lin; he makes numerous moves to the left.
The only tape I’ve seen of Lin in a Golden State uniform is a drive left to the basket for a score. In the torching John Wall summer game video, the first two moves by Lin against Wall are to the left. The now world-famous spin move on Derek Fisher starts right but the spin is a move to the left. The thunderous dunk against Washington starts to the left and, after he’s clear, it’s a switch back to the right for the dunk. And there was that one move in a recent game (not sure which, maybe Sacramento) where, early in the game, Lin drives to the basket with his left, dribbles under the basket and out again with his left and then swoops in for a left-handed layup.
Frankly, if you hear an “expert” tell you that Jeremy Lin’s weakness is going left, they simply don’t know what they are talking about and/or haven’t been watching. According to the New York Daily News, the “scouting report” on Jeremy Lin was that he was all right (handed, that is) and that you could beat him up.
To date, both of those things have proven to be totally wrong.
WHAT ABOUT TOO MANY TURNOVERS AND TOO MANY SHOTS?
Well, shots for a point guard are often determined by the defense. Not believed to be a very good shooter, teams like the Lakers had guys like Derek Fisher going under ball screens, giving Lin easy 16-18 foot jump shots (that and Lin’s quickness is why he scored 38; they dared him to hit open jump shots and he did). Plus, as the star scorers (Amar’e, Carmelo and even J.R. Smith, a very talented offensive player if his head is screwed on right) come back, Lin’s points/shots will go down as his assists go up. He’s well aware of that, but isn’t afraid to take a big shot, especially if the defense gives it to him (although you don’t believe that the defenses will now be that stupid).
As for turnovers, they will go down as he gets to play more and more with his present team and Carmelo and others when they come back.
But the notion that this might all blow up, that it might come to an end (barring major injury) and that this kid is a flash in the pan?
At a minimum, Jeremy Lin is a 10-year better- than-average NBA point guard. The maximum? Fill in just about anything you want.
Do you think Lin should be added to the All-Star Game roster? Sound off below!