National Media’s ‘Linsanity’ becoming a real pain in the butt

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February 28, 2012

Every sports journalist loves a good story.

We just do.

Deep down, that’s why we’re in the business we’re in – it’s not for money, acclaim or recognition – it’s for the stories.

You know the ones I’m talking about – the tales of the underdogs beating the athletic titans or the legends that are made when champions are crowned.

To this day, just thinking about such situations gives me goosebumps on the surface of my skin – that’s just how deep the passion for these things run for those who have been bitten by this poisonous bug we call journalism.

But there are instances in this business, unfortunately, where a good story can go bad.

That’s exactly what we’re seeing right now with the way the national media (specifically, ESPN) are handling the tabloid circus that is New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin.

Let me preface the remainder of this column by saying that I’m not a fan, nor a hater of the Knicks or of Lin in particular. I’m approaching my stance with an objective mind.

I’ve had enough of this guy – please, pretty please get him off my TV screen.

For those of you who are not familiar with what I’m talking about, here’s a little background info.

Lin is an Asian-American Harvard graduate who was a stellar player for four years in the Ivy League.

Despite his athletic prowess with the Crimson, Lin was not drafted to the NBA and instead worked the professional circuit the hard way, playing for multiple developmental league teams, as well as a few cups of coffee with the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets.

After being cut by the Rockets this past fall, Lin signed with the Knicks.

Lo and behold, this Cinderella underdog tale was now being hosted in the Mecca of basketball – Madison Square Garden.

His role was initially expected to be nothing more than a roster filler to play alongside then-starter Toney Douglas and soon-to-be-healthy Baron Davis.

But Douglas struggled mightily and stars Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire both got injured, thrusting Lin into action.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Lin has established himself as a legitimate NBA player and has posted several games that were worthy of mainstream attention, including a 28-point and 14-assist effort against the defending champion Dallas Mavericks and a 38-point game against the Lakers.

Good story? No. It’s not that, it’s more.

The Jeremy Lin story is a great one – probably the best underdog tale we’ll see in all of 2012.

It’s a tale that is inspiring millions of people around the world and is giving an entire nationality of people something to hold on to and something to wrap their fingers around.

That is truly an unbelievable thing in today’s cruel and unfair world.

But is it worth the coverage it’s being given right now through mainstream sports media?

Not even close.

That is where my issue lies.

Flip on the TV to ESPN on a night that the Knicks play and you’re instantly bombarded with the cute term the big-wigs in Connecticut like to call the “Lin Watch.”

How many points did he score?

How many assists did he have?

Did he cut down on his turnovers tonight? If so, great! Throw that onto a pie chart with Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo and Deron Williams. If not, who cares about measly details?

It’s Linsanity baby, and assists-to-turnover ratios mean little in this world.

Should the Knicks win and Lin has another big game, then it’s time for the comparisons.

How does Lin’s first 10-15 starts compare to Chris Paul?

Or how about to Magic Johnson?

Say what? We’re comparing the 10th best point guard (a generous ranking) in the NBA right now to the best PG of all-time?

Is this for real?

It’s more than real – it’s a normal occurrence in a night of “Linsanity.”

Forget that Kevin Durant scored 50 points tonight – Jeremy Lin had 11 assists and 8 turnovers in a win over the Raptors.

That’s getting all of the press.

Forget that the NFL offseason is about to begin and players like Ray Rice, Drew Brees and Mario Williams are all about to be free agents.

Jeremy Lin just dropped 10 dimes on the Wizards in another Knicks victory.

That’s getting an extended highlight and a roundtable discussion that will last into the entire opening two segments of SportsCenter.

Enough already!

Stop throwing this guy in our collective faces.

Please, can we just let his story play itself out? In real time and not in this accelerated, super duper Red Bull news cycle?

Jeremy Lin is 23 years old and has another seven-to-10 solid years of basketball left in his tank if he truly is the player the darlings believe he is.

Until then, can we please just talk about something else?

I’ve had so much Linsanity that I can make a strong case that I am experiencing serious insanity.

And that’s not a good thing.

Let’s go on to the next story.

That’s what sports journalism is about, right?