When a story like the Jeremy Lin phenomenon hits Day 7, we in the media have no choice but to do one of two things.
1) Ignore it. Move on. And try to find something new to talk about.
2) Embrace it. Analyze it. And find a new way to spin it.
And since there is nothing else going on in sports right now – I’m Lin!
So instead of trying to figure out the social significance of Lin and projecting where this story is heading, I offer this modest proposal to NBA Commissioner David Stern.
Put Jeremy Lin in the All-Star Game.
I know he’s only played in seven games this year. I know he’s started six. I know that ten days ago, most Americans (and many NBA fans) didn’t even know who he was. The fact is that he is now the single biggest sports star in America. He has crossed over from sports into the mainstream. He’s talked about on Good Morning America and Today as much as he’s talked about on Sports Center. He’ll eventually end up on Letterman, Leno, Kimmel and (probably) Saturday Night Live.
So if he’s good enough for those outlets, he should be good enough for the NBA’s showcase game. Of course he hasn’t EARNED it. You usually have to play in all the games to become an All-Star. And perhaps he doesn’t deserve it as much as other players who didn’t make the roster (Atlanta’s Josh Smith comes to mind). But this isn’t about Smith. And it really isn’t about the other players in the NBA. This is about the fans. NBA fans were treated like trash during the lockout. And they’re getting the short end of the stick with this compressed 2012 schedule. There’s a lot of basketball every night, but most of it isn’t very good. Lin is the breakout story of this season and every fan deserves to see him playing with the game’s biggest stars in Orlando.
But more than that, this is about the non-basketball fans. The sport has lost a lot of fans over the past few years (especially during the lockout). This is a perfect opportunity to not only bring some fans back, but also to build a new fan base. The All-Star Game would post record ratings. The buzz would be off the charts. My wife couldn’t care less about the NBA, but I guarantee that she’d watch at least a minute or two of the All-Star Game if Lin was in there. This game is for the fans. The fans want Lin. Where’s the debate?
Well, apparently there is some debate. This morning on the Stoney and Bill show, I argued this point with Stoney and Tony Ortiz. They both felt that this violated some weird sanctity of the game (and if it sounds like I’m putting words into their mouths, I am). There IS no sanctity to the game. Quick – name the last All-Star moment you even remember. Anything? The last thing I remember is East coach Flip Saunders putting four Pistons (Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace) into the game at the same time in 2006. And the only reason I remember that is because we live in Detroit.
This game is dead. Lin would bring it back to life. And you know that he’d be voted into the game if the voting got redone over the next two weeks. He’d probably get more votes than Kobe, Lebron and D. Wade combined.
This may not be the fair thing to do. But it is the right thing to do. You’d watch. I’d watch. We’d all watch.