The Jeremy Lin story has recently taken both expected and unexpected turns. The good news is that on the basketball side of things, Mr. Lin remains the cat's meow. The Knicks win (usually), are exciting and also are team-oriented -- three things that had largely disappeared from Madison Square Garden. Coach Mike D'Antoni's job seems secure as he figures out how to handle a team with too much talent, and the much and justly-maligned Garden ownership team has its turn in the reflected genius of Jeremy.
The bad news is that on the journalism/political/social side, a substantial jerk factor has emerged. Too often the debate has turned into discussions of race and public speech. A number of puns were proposed publicly, some using words that flow from the mouths of the invincibly bigoted or the invincibly dopey. While I don't know these folks personally, I suspect the dopiness quotient is larger than the hate quotient. The death penalty was imposed on some, while others have been punished with hope of survival. Other more grandiose pronouncements have come from pundits on the left and right and all other communities, mostly seeing the Lin dynamic through the prism of long-standing viewpoints. It is generally a good thing to put a stop to verbal stupidity and offensive public speech. It is to be hoped that such can be accomplished without souring the wonderful underlying story.
In spite of the above, the Lin story is both important and uplifting. Jeremy Lin has reminded us, without intent to do so, of important and valuable things. The beauty and importance of sport; the value of hard work; the need for selflessness and teamwork; the need for self-confidence; perseverance in the face of disappointment. Our addiction to sport, it turns out, is more than male remembrance of things past. Both genders, all races and classes, republicans, democrats and independents share those values and the power of sport to remind us of them. That we've slightly stumbled over the racial overtones of the Lin story is sad and predictable. But it does not appear that the unfolding story will morph into a series of idiocies and grievances, and that's a good thing.
Part of our effort to focus on the good side of the Lin saga may require us to develop us to develop our own chants and cheers. Let us assemble at the next major Lin sighting with a bunch of signs and chants that include, "Lin-oleum, Lin-oleum" or "Lin-guistics, Lin-guistics" or "Lin-zer tart, Lin-zer tart". Maybe this will let the poor man play basketball without carrying our various and sundry craziness on his shoulders. Given what he's done for us, it's the least we can do for him.