It’s Linsane! Teamwork Trumps Talent


I have to start this post by admitting: I’m a die-hard Knicks fan.  To say that I am, like my fellow fanatics, long-suffering, would be stating the obvious.  My beloved team last won a world championship 40 years ago.  I’ve never actually witnessed them winning it all.  Being a Giants and Yankees fan as well, this has been hard for me to take.  So why still be a Knicks fan?  Well…if you’re a fan, then you’re a fan.  Thick or thin.  Win or lose.  What can I tell you?

What I can do is tell you how excited I’ve been over the last two years as the Knicks have finally made personnel moves that, in theory, should have the Knicks in title contention.  We first brought in league star Amar’e Stoudemire, who, along with a cast of relative unknowns gave us a glimpse of competitive basketball for the first time in almost a decade.  Then, following conventional wisdom, the Knicks did everything they could to get a second star player in Carmelo Anthony.

The problem?  The Knicks gave up too many of their unknown players.  With a tremendous amount of talent, and little depth, the Knicks did something surprising: they struggled.  In fact, after the Knicks acquired Carmelo, they finished the year 14-14.  Then were swept in the playoffs – four straight losses and out.  This year, after getting another star player in Tyson Chandler, the Knicks ignited their fan base again.  We were all finally not only excited, but expectant of watching a legitimate title contender.  This was it!  We finally had the star power we needed to win!  Fans were high-fiving each other and dreaming of a championship before the first jump ball was tossed.  So what happened?

We start the year 9-15.  Losers.  Again.  For all of our talent, it turned out that our stars did not mesh well together.  For one, our biggest star, Carmelo Anthony, holds the ball for long periods while the rest of his teammates stand around waiting for magic to happen.  And it doesn’t.  At least not consistently.  Knick fans began yelling for the coach to be fired.  We were booing our team during games, and we were absolutely frustrated by this tease of talent.  So what happens?

For various extremely unfortunate reasons, our two biggest stars miss a week of action.  And then it hit.  Linsanity.  An undrafted, unheralded player named Jeremy Lin, who spent the first part of the year at the end of the Knick bench, via Harvard University, no less…finally got his chance to play with our roster depleted.  And wouldn’t you know it?  He leads the Knicks to five straight wins.  Not only does he light the scoreboard up in creative ways we never knew he had in him, he makes his teammates better by passing the ball to them so that they score.  Bench players who were afterthoughts are now filling the basket with ease.  The energy in Madison Square Garden is electric again as players are now diving on the floor for loose balls, hounding their opponents on defense, and running to the basket knowing that Lin will get them the ball.  If a Knick gets knocked to the floor, all of his teammates run to him to help him up.

And the entire sports nation has caught Linsanity.  How can you not root for a guy who comes out of Harvard with an economics degree?  How can you not root for a guy who’d been cut by two different teams in the previous year, and who was about to be cut from the Knicks before he exploded onto the scene?  How can you not root for a guy who, with his picture now on every newspaper back page across the country, and who’s given America a new word for its lexicon, answers reporters’ questions about how he did it by stating that this is not about him.  He goes on to say that his teammates aren’t getting the credit they deserve.  And that we should all see the hard work and sacrifice his fellow former no-names put in night after night.  And for a guy who has been given credit for energizing a team and the entire city that lends it it’s name, all he does is smile and say it’s his teammates that energize him.

And there it is.

So here’s a small bit of advice to our stars when they come back to play.  From a long-suffering fan who’s seen talent come and go: when you step back on the court, leave your ego in the locker room and get with the Linsanity.  If you want to win a championship, score when you can as is your talent, but give up the ball and your energy to your teammates when you can’t.  Be selfless, and make sure your teammates get the credit they deserve, even if you are the star.

No, you may not get the spotlight.  But you just might get that ring.  And add to the Linsane idea that teamwork trumps talent.

Sound Off!

Broadcast Your Inner Champion

1 Response to "It’s Linsane! Teamwork Trumps Talent"

  • Debbie says:

    Great post Steve! I think when Amare comes back he will be able to adjust and flow effectively in the system, because he understands how to be successful with a point guard of Lin’s caliber – who thrives off of getting everyone involved in the offense.

    The media is now focusing on Melo’s return and stating that he may have a problem adjusting to Lin. What Melo has to do is take a page out of Paul Pierce’s book by changing his game.

    Time will tell if Melo thrives with Lin or continues to hold the ball for eternity which will only result in losses. Team work is the key like you stated, so I’m optimistic that everyone will be on the same page. Let’s go Knicks!

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