Suns Weigh In on Linsanity
Posted: Feb. 15, 2012
When it comes to basketball knowledge, there’s no better historian than Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry. That’s why when he says he’s “never seen anything like this” in his 30-plus years of basketball, one would do well to take notice.
What Gentry was referring to was the phenomenon that is Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin. And although “Linsanity” won’t be making its way to US Airways Center during the regular season, it hasn’t stopped the movement from dominating the conversation around the arena.
“I think he’s captured the NBA,” Gentry said before Wednesday’s game. “I think I heard something where they were selling tickets for $8,000 tonight.”
Just under a month ago, when the Suns were in NYC to face the Knicks, Suns point guard Jeremy Lin wasn’t even on the Knicks’ active roster. Now, after six-straight wins and five starts, Lin is the talk of the sports world.
“It’s shocking,” Suns swingman Jared Dudley said. “But I’m happy because it’s such a great story. Anytime a good point guard plays in a Mike D’Antoni-like system like we have, he’s going to excel if he can make plays.”
It’s hard to believe that a player putting up these sort of numbers could go unnoticed for so long. Although in the summer of 2010, a minor buzz developed around Lin at the NBA Las Vegas Summer League.
But it was more of a “check out this kid from Harvard who can actually play;” not “don’t go waste your time watching John Wall’s debut, this guy Lin is better.”
After hearing about Lin in passing, everyone still went to go see Wall play.
Now the 6-3 Asian-American guard out of Harvard is the greatest Cinderella story to hit the scene since Kurt Warner led the Rams to the Super Bowl. ESPN literally incorporates Lin into every single segment that they produce, whether it’s about basketball, NASCAR or hockey.
He's the new American Idol. He's the new overnight success.
“That’s why I think everybody loved Allen Iverson,” Gentry said. “You can stand beside him because he’s actually your size. You can dream about being Allen Iverson and I think a lot of people can relate to Jeremy.”
Gentry compared his story a little to current Nets Head Coach Avery Johnson, who Gentry noted was cut about six times in his career. But through perseverance, Johnson went on to be the starting point guard on NBA Championship teams.
Crossing sports, Gentry noted that like Warner, Lin’s meteoric rise was due in part to an offensive system that allowed him to showcase his unique talents.
Even as an enormous Broncos fan, Gentry even had to admit the undeniable truth to himself and everyone else.
“He just played in the D-league a month ago and now he’s bigger than (Broncos quarterback Tim) Tebow,” Gentry said.
Dudley, who also went from being an unheralded player to a starter in the NBA, appreciates his coach’s football analogy, but went in a slightly different direction.
“He’s like (Patriots quarterback) Tom Brady,” JD said. “He’s received his opportunity and he’s making the most of it.”
One thing that everyone can seem to agree on is that no one has ever seen anything like this in the NBA.
“I think you can have a day or a couple of days where guys have gotten 50 points in this league like (former Suns guard) Tony Delk did here,” Gentry said. “Guys can have shining moments, but I don’t know if it’s lasted (like this). When your name is at the top of a list and then there’s names like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar) below you, you’ve had a pretty good run.”
The 136 points that Lin has scored in his five NBA starts is the highest point total for any player in the NBA’s modern era.
Any questions or comments for Stefan Swiat? Click here to send him your comments by e-mail.