Posts Tagged ‘jeremy lin’

Remember Jeremy Lin?

In April 2012 I wrote a blog post about the excitement surrounding the emergence of Lin, the Asian-American Harvard graduate turned starting point guard for the New York Knicks.

By then the “Linsanity” that had overtaken New York City and the basketball world for a few months over the winter had all but died down. Lin would miss the rest of the season with a knee injury and later eventually sign with another team, where he performed well below Linsanity levels.

I got to thinking about Jeremy Lin as I was thinking about the upcoming final episode of Serial, the country’s most popular podcast about a 1999 murder. Serial’s final episode will be available for download on Thursday morning.

The series has elevated the audio format, and has generated interest of all kinds. Besides the Reddit community and others like it, who have no shortage of theories, we have others debating whether Serial is ethical. Whether it’s technically journalism. Whether it should exist at all. (Also, whether it’s okay for a brand to joke about it on Twitter.)

From what I’ve been reading online, most listeners believe there will be no real closure to the story. Serial’s host Sarah Koenig will likely end the show’s first season having accomplished nothing—i.e., nothing but entertain her audience for the last three months.

(Speaking of the end of Serial, here’s my own crackpot theory: Jay had a far bigger role in the murder than he admitted to police, and quite possibly framed Adnan knowing Adnan was an easy target. I say easy target because Adnan was Muslim in a mostly non-Muslim Maryland area—which was clearly a factor for some of the jurorsand Adnan was the victim’s ex-boyfriend. Also, Jay could count on the state’s star witness—himself—to push the investigation away from himself and towards Adnan, meanwhile getting himself a plea deal (and free lawyer) for cooperating with the state. Not crackpot-y enough for ya? I also feel like the popularity of the Scream movies back in the late 1990s somehow played into the idea of this real life 1999 high school murder where someone else may have been framed for the crime.)

Like Jeremy Lin, Serial will go on to play another season. (Thanks to listener donations the show can fund another Serial story—that is, if Sarah Koenig can ever recover from the first one.)

Jeremy Lin hasn’t come close to approximating the excitement he created in New York in 2012; he’s been extremely average as a basketball player. For Serial’s part, I think a second season with an equally specious story—maybe another intriguing cold case, maybe something else entirely—could be great. Will it be great as the first season? Maybe—but probably not.

Perhaps Serial’s legacy, more than its Linsanity-like excitement in the fall of 2014, will be that it opens the door for other would-be podcasters to create long-form, high quality, episodic, intellectual content that people will actual listen to, without producers having to worry about trying to sell audiences on a new (if not recycled) concept. “It’s gonna be the next Serial,” would be their oft-repeated—if slightly exaggerated—mantra.

As for the last episode of Serial’s first season, I haven’t been as pumped for a finale since Breaking Bad’s last episode in 2013. Serial won’t be wrapped up as neatly as I’d like it to be, i.e. Adnan is clearly guilty or clearly innocent based on new evidence Koenig has been holding back from us.

But that’s not really the point anymore.

Got a Serial theory? Let’s hear it.

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Late last week news broke that Jeremy Lin, star of New York’s short-lived Lisanity movement, would miss the rest of the season due to a knee injury that required surgery. This marked the official end to Linsanity, and the already-waning interest many casual basketball fans had in the fate of the 2011-12 New York Knicks.

Rather than mourning this loss, or hatching conspiracy theories to fill the sports pages once dominated by Lincredible headlines, I’d like to look back about two months to the height of Linsanity. It was the quintessential bandwagon-y sort of sports phenomenon we don’t get to see that often: short-lived, unsustainable, and exciting as all hell while it lasted.

On a Friday in February, I was celebrating the start of my thirtieth birthday weekend in Chinatown. A visiting relative offered to treat us to dinner at his favorite Vietnamese restaurant in the city, a thank you for letting him crash on our pull-out couch while he was in town for a few nights.

It was about 7:15 when the three of us met up for pre-dinner drinks at Whiskey Tavern, a pub that seemed out of place among the Asian restaurants and fish stores that make up most of Chinatown. But it was loud and packed for the Knicks game.

The Knicks had been improbably led by Asian-American and Harvard graduate point guard Jeremy Lin for the past week or so. Now on a three-game win streak, they were on the verge of reclaiming their status as the hottest ticket in town as they hosted Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.

During the week, the media had goaded the Lakers’ star to look ahead to the Knicks game. Classic Kobe, he replied with a caustic and dismissive “Jeremy Lin who?” response, downplaying the match-up as just another game on the schedule. After all, he’s a future hall of famer with five championship rings, and Jeremy Lin is…well, a guy who was sitting at the end of the bench about a week ago.

We stuck around for the first quarter of the game, had a couple of beers and a celebratory round of Whiskey Tavern’s specialty, the “pickle back shot,” then left the bar to head next door for dinner. Afterwards, we went back to Whiskey Tavern for the second half, just as Jeremy Lin was going off on the Lakers, eventually tallying 38 points.

Whiskey Tavern ohhhh-ed with every made basket. Onlookers shook their head Lincredulously with every spin move and teardrop and bank shot. If–no, when–they make a movie about Jeremy Lin, and they do the cutaway to crowded local bar (the one that every sports movie has), it will look a lot like Whiskey Tavern looked like that night.

New York hasn’t been this excited about the Knicks in a long time. With the recent success of the Yankees and Giants and even the Rangers this season, the Knicks were becoming the least relevant team in New York City. But Linsanity brought them back. The next morning after the Laker game, my girlfriend gave me my birthday present: tickets to see the Knicks at Madison Square Garden the following Friday, which she had the foresight to buy just before the previous night’s game. After Jeremy Lin’s 38 against the Lakers, the Knicks were officially the hottest ticket in town and, on this rare occasion, we had it.

Hundreds of articles were written about Jeremy Lin during the height of Linsanity. About how he’s a Tim Tebow-like role model, how he was an underdog looked over by several NBA teams because he played for an Ivy League school (or because he’s Asian-American), how he was a target for one ESPN headline writer (a “Chink in the Armor” moment of poor judgement cost said writer his job), how the Knicks’ top scorer Carmelo Anthony is going to have to move over for Lin, and how not even Linsanity could save the Knicks’ head coach’s job.

Jay Caspian Kang at Grantland wrote a piece about the future of Jeremy Lin from a basketball standpoint. It was an interesting read, but to be honest, I don’t really care. The rest of Jeremy Lin’s career could manifest in a number of ways, including a path that’s completely devoid of basketball–he’s got a freakin’ degree in economics from Harvard–but he’ll never recapture the excitement he created during the Linsanity era.

The lesson I’ve taken away from all of this is this: As satisfying to your ego as it may be to dismiss something as a fad, it’s incalculably more fun to get caught up in it. Every so often, go ahead and embrace the Linsanity, the Lincredible, and the Linpossible. There’s always room on the bandwagon.

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