“Linsanity” came when Lin stopped trying to play for others

7 Comments

Just go out and play. Let God and the universe take care of the rest of it.

That is the battle Jeremy Lin says he fights daily now — not trying to live up to the expectations of others, not trying to control everything, but just going out and playing basketball. Lin — a devoutly religious man who has talked of becoming a minister after basketball — said he wants to turn everything else over to God and not worry about it. Whether you are Christian or Buddhist or anything else, not worrying about the physical is a hard.

But Lin says that is what has gotten him to where he is now.

Lin talked about all of this in a fascinating interview with Marcus Thompson II at the Mercury News in the Bay Area (where Lin grew up and played his rookie year).

“Sometimes you come up against a mountain and you end up making the mountain seem bigger than God,” Lin said. “Last year, I was on pins and needles. I was putting all this unnecessary pressure on myself. Now, I feel like I’m free out there….

“I’m not playing to prove anything to anybody,” Lin said. “That affected my game last year and my joy last year. With all the media attention, all the love from the fans (in the Bay Area), I felt I needed to prove myself. Prove that I’m not a marketing tool, I’m not a ploy to improve attendance. Prove I can play in this league. But I’ve surrendered that to God. I’m not in a battle with what everybody else thinks anymore.”

What nearly everybody else thinks is that he’s the newest star of the NBA. It’s a story that resonates, certainly with Christians in the way the Tim Tebow story did (and Lin says Tebow is an inspiration).

But right now in America he resonates as a person kicked around by the system who did not give up, found his place and turned both his career and a franchise around. This is a nation suffering through the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression and in that we are drawn to the stories of guys who do not give up, who overcome adversity.

Last season Lin was not this good with the Warriors. He shot 38.9 percent (it is 49.6 percent this year), he assisted on about 20 percent of his teammates baskets when he was on the floor, and his PER was an average 14.8 in limited minutes. This season 47.7 percent of his teammates baskets when he is on the floor and has an All-Star level PER of 25.9.

The Warriors let Lin go because they needed his salary to make a big offer to DeAndre Jordan (one the Clippers matched). The Rockets took him in but had two quality point guards (Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic) then they let him go when they needed his salary to make a big offer to Samuel Dalembert.

The Knicks got him and sent him to the D-League (where he dropped a triple double). According to the Mercury News, Lin got his first real shot against the Nets one night because Carmelo Anthony told Mike D’Antoni to give him a shot.

And it worked, Linsanity was suddenly born out of nowhere. Why? Because he just started going out and playing, not worrying about everything else. Now he just wants to keep that going.

“It’s a platform I’ve been given,” Lin said. “I want to be real. I don’t want to have a false image. I want people to see who I am and what God has done in my life.

“If people don’t like me or are waiting for me to fail, that’s on them. I don’t want to offend anybody. I don’t want to be overbearing. But I’ve got to be who I am.”

Kevin Durant gets into Twitter debate with reporter over White House comments

Leave a comment

Kevin Durant became the latest Warrior — joining Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, and Shaun Livingston, that we know of — to say he would not visit President Donald Trump’s White House as NBA champion. Which is all kind of moot because it’s unlikely the White House invites them and outspoken Trump critic/Warriors coach Steve Kerr and his players any way. (The White House’s biggest concern should be that Kerr accepts the invitation and uses that platform to challenge the president’s policies and style in front of him.)

Durant’s comments led to plenty of talk on sports talk radio and around the sports world online about whether a player or team should decline an invitation from the president. It’s not a new debate, Tom Brady denied that politics is why he didn’t visit Barack Obama’s White House (although I’m not sure many believed him), but KD’s on a big stage now so it became a talking point.

Former ESPN reporter Britt McHenry questioned a player not visiting the White House, and Durant responded, leading to a little Twitter back-and-forth.

Durant had previously Tweeted in response “by doing the opposite, I am inspiring more people” but that Tweet was deleted.

There is no one correct way to protest a person/policy/action, McHenry may see things differently, but Durant has chosen to stay away. That’s valid — traditionally these “champions to the White House” things are tedious photo ops with a few bad jokes thrown in. Having a hoops fan/player in Obama in the White House made the NBA visits more entertaining the past eight years, there was some trash talk, but still, they are largely just a public relations moment. If KD doesn’t want to play the PR game with Trump, that’s a legitimate response.

This has all been a tempest in a teapot. Until/unless the White House actually invites the Warriors to come, it’s all kind of moot.

Dwight Howard on Hornets’ coach Clifford: “It’s a great feeling when somebody believes in you”

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Dwight Howard‘s game is much better than his reputation among fans.

He’s not the Defensive Player of the Year/All-NBA/MVP candidate level player he was back in Orlando, but Howard is still one of the best rebounders in the game, he’s strong defensively, and he’s an efficient scorer inside. He’s a quality center, if he plays within himself and is used well. His perception as a guy who does not take the game seriously and held back Houston and Atlanta in recent years has validity (he plays better in pick-and-roll than on the move, but wants the ball in the post), but the idea he is trash is flat-out wrong. He’s still good.

Howard wants to change his reputation, rewrite the final chapters of his career, and told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN that Steve Clifford’s Charlotte Hornets are the place that is going to happen.

“The other places I was, the coaches didn’t really know who I am,” Howard told ESPN. “I think that they had perception of me and ran with it. Cliff knows my game. He knows all the things that I can do. I’m very determined to get back to the top. It’s a great feeling when somebody believes in you. They aren’t just saying it; they believe it. It really just pushed me to the limit in workouts: running, training, everything. I want to do more.

“In Orlando, I was getting 13-15 shots a game. Last season, in Atlanta, it was six shot attempts. It looks like I’m not involved in the game. And if I miss a shot, it sticks out because I am not getting very many of them. But I think it’s all opportunity, the system. I haven’t had a system where I can be who I am since I was in Orlando.”

Howard averaged 8.3 field goal attempts per game in Atlanta, which is about five a game below his peak. Last season 75 percent of Howard’s shots came within three feet of the rim — is is not there to space the floor, however, he can still move fairly well off the roll and is a good passer for a big.

Last season, 28 percent of Howard’s possessions came on post ups, and he averaged a pedestrian 0.84 points per possession on those. On the 21 percent of shots he got on a cut, he averaged a very good 1.36 PPP. When he got the ball back as a roll man (again on the move), it was 1.18 PPP. The challenge long has been Howard is better on the move but doesn’t feel involved unless he gets post touches, and if he doesn’t feel involved and engaged he’s not the same player.

Maybe Clifford can make this all work with some older plays where Howard feels comfortable.

Charlotte, with Howard in the paint and on the boards, should get back to being a top 10 NBA defensive team, not the middle of the pack as they were last season. Clifford is better than that as a coach, and Howard is an upgrade in the paint (on both ends). Charlotte should be a playoff team again in the East.

But it all will come back to Howard. Fair or not. And Wojnarowski is right, this is Howard’s last best chance to write the ending he wants to his career.

Friday afternoon fun: Watch James Harden’s 10 best plays from last season

Leave a comment

James Harden had a historic season in Houston.

Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

Harry How/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.