My interest in basketball piqued in Summer 2008, when I was interning at Toyota Headquarters in LA. I remember watching the NBA Finals featuring two legendary teams: the LA Lakers and the Boston Celtics. I also remember the gloom that pervaded the office when the Lakers lost… no one said much that day.
Since then, I’ve become a bit of a junkie – my interest probably peaked and plateaued during 2011, at the tail end of my Teach For America experience heading into the 2011-2012 NBA lock out season. Yeah, that season, where the condensed schedule had me watching one to two games per night. Two words: dedication and time-consuming.
I was never really a Rockets fan until Morey gutted the roster. With Scola, Dragic (traded from the Suns), and the rest of the gang no longer present, my interest shifted towards the Rockets, but not necessarily from my team, the Oklahoma City Thunder. (KD went to my alma mater when I was there, so of course I have to support him and OKC! Plus, I just like the organization.)
With the rise of Linsanity, my good guy friend and I prattled on about whether this Asian kid from Palo Alto was truly legit. I didn’t believe it until I saw his performance with my own eyes. Then, I read “Linspired”, and well, I won’t lie, he was a big part of why I started following the Rockets… nevermind Chandler Parsons’ obvious good looks and perfect hair, lol. (He wasn’t always the heartthrob of the Rockets, btw…) Then when James Harden came to H-town from OKC, the Rockets became a somewhat formidable team. When I left for Paris, I bought international NBA league pass — we don’t play around here! — so I could cheer both teams into the 2013 Playoffs.
My sister said that all I talk about is God and basketball… and I’ll add food to that, too. And she’s probably right… Anyway… Here are my somewhat connected thoughts I’ve been mulling over for a while now… (I started this post in July while spending a month in Hawai’i, but I haven’t posted it until now. I kind of forgot about it since I’ve been neglecting my blog.).
1.) His Contract: It was pretty obvious that Jeremy Lin was going to come to Houston from New York. Morey’s ridiculous contract was a no-brainer – anyone would’ve taken the deal. Carmelo and him had reportedly butt heads, Dantoni was fired etc. Besides, what’s New York’s appeal? I’m admittedly biased, having traveled to numerous places around the world, and I very much dislike New York. I would never live there. The weather stinks, the people are neutral (at best), and the cost of living is high. Houston has significantly better weather, friendly people, great (cheap) food, and the cost of living is low. Plus, there’s a huge Asian fan base who, I assume, have expendable income to watch the games at Toyota Center.
2.) Trade Rumors: With free agency rumors swirling around after the Finals, glaring focus was cast on Dwight Howard’s decision. Personally, I didn’t want Dwight Howard to relocate to Houston for two reasons. First, I think that there are certain aspects or intangibles attached to players, in this case, his seemingly immature attitude and inability to decide what he wants. There’s no denying his stats (when he’s healthy), but I wonder(ed) how he’d mesh with the team. Secondly, Dwight’s decision could’ve dominoed into the current Rockets’ roster, notably affecting Jeremy Lin (and Omer Asik), who was (were) rumored to be ‘expendable’.
I don’t think another team would’ve agreed to finance J Lin’s contract because his contract is backloaded – he’ll make about $15 million in the last year of his contract. With average stats from last season, teams don’t want to gamble on his somewhat inconsistent performance no matter what he’s shown his ceiling to be.
3.) Bandwagoning?: Personally, I think it’s a bit absurd that people so quick to jump on the “Linsanity” bandwagon have become so quick to jump off. I heard a woman plainly and bitterly yell: “Get Lin off the court! Linsanity is over!!!” during Game 6 of the first-round playoffs (when he was injured). (She was probably a basketball ‘fan’ who only watches basketball during the Playoffs…) Truth is, though, Jeremy did fairly well for his first full season playing in all 82 NBA games.
4.) Solution: Critics’ immediate reaction: put in Patrick Beverly. Everyone boasts of his stats during the Playoffs, but lets not forget he was playing against Reggie Jackson, NOT Russell Westbrook, whom he injured, FYI. (That’s a sore topic… Le sigh.) To be honest AND FAIR, would PB have led the Rockets to the Playoffs? I’m not so sure or convinced… I truly believe that J Lin is the best point guard that the Rockets have right now. And I don’t see other teams giving up their really good PGs anytime soon. (Believe me, I would’ve loved to see Rajon Rondo here.)
5.) The ‘What-If’ / Potential Game: Jeremy Lin was the top ranked player in California coming out of high school, but was still undrafted. What if J Lin had gotten real experience for two extra years in the NBA coming out of college (instead of sitting on the bench)? How much better would he be than he is now? (For those of you who like to read, reference Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers” first chapter in which he talks about a self-fulfilling prophecy in context with top NHL players. I mean, isn’t that we do to Honors / AP kids in America? Take the brightest and give them the best teachers and resources?) Since the majority of Asians have super great work ethic, you can bet to see improvement in his game this year and beyond. How rapidly? I can’t answer that question.
6.) His Future: Will he be traded this year? Probably not because of his backloaded contract. (I don’t think any team would want to pay him $15 mil. Although I did read something about how his contract could be restructured to pay out the same amount over a longer period of time or something along those lines… but I could be wrong.) His NBA career beyond his current contract will obviously depend on his improvement and performance this year and next. However, his ‘fall back’ plans: being a pastor, managing a non-profit, working with kids etc. are all great options. It’s really a win-win situation for him. God’s got his back.
Final (Miscellaneous) Thoughts:
– The reason I wrote this post to begin with is because I was slightly irritated about the summer trade rumors surrounding J Lin and the Rockets. I will echo what I’ve already said: J Lin is the best point guard that the Rockets have right now. And I don’t see other teams giving up their really good PGs anytime soon.
– I’m still sore, probably as sore as Westbrook’s right knee, that he was injured during the Playoffs. Only with him will the Thunder have a chance to get to the Western Conference Finals / NBA Finals.
– I started a fantasy basketball league on yahoo and recruited all my guy friends and their friends to play. I’m the league commissioner and only girl playing in the league. I’m so pumped! I may buy NBA League Pass. Oh, and we also have participants all over the US (from Hawaii to NYC)!
– While this post focused mainly on Jeremy Lin, let it be known that I’m more just a fan of the game. Honestly, Jeremy Lin probably isn’t that cool (just like no NBA player is) to make me want to follow the sport if I didn’t already like it, not even Kevin Durant. In fact, I didn’t draft J Lin in my first fantasy league.
– Lastly, Kevin Durant answered a question when asked… honestly. So he put James Harden (instead of D Wade) in the top 10. Big whoop. What was he supposed to do? Also, it’s so adorbs that he’s engaged to his fiancé who plays in the WNBA in Minnesota. His tweet to her was so super cute congratulating their championship win. They’re going to have super amazing basketball babies that it won’t even be fair for the rest of future NBA players. LOL (Hear about him being sick of coming in second all the time? Pretty sure his basketball babies will dominate everyone else’s basketball babies.)