Of course, denial doesn't make the luck factor any less real. Opportunity doesn't always knock. How many other Lins are out there, dreaming a little less vividly, still crashing on someone's couch?
Hampton, what do you think? Does Linsanity say something about our national psyche? Our love of easy puns? And are you as worried about Lin's penchant for turnovers as I am?
Leave it to Patrick, our resident naysayer, to search this silver lining for a touch of gray. It's no "dirty little secret" that Lin's success almost didn't happen. That's the whole point. Being dissed by D-I schools, going undrafted, getting cut—that's all part of why he's fun to watch.
But it wasn't "dumb luck" that's gotten him to the Garden. There's no such thing. All luck is smart, because luck, as they say in coach-speak, is when preparation meets opportunity.
Okay, suppose the Knicks had cut Lin after all? Do you think he would have have quit basketball? Would he have taken that Ivy League degree to Wall Street? Fat chance. Maybe it's just my confounded American optimism talking, but I'd guess he would have played in Europe, or the D-League, or anywhere else he could to try and make his dream come true.
I do blame talent scouts for missing his potential. Lots. And it doesn't take a faux-Malcolm Gladwell management consultant to understand why they did. They missed Lin's ability for the same reason that Steve Nash wasn't touted out of high school—or why Jason Seahorn's NFL career was a surprise. That would be racism. Duh.
From prep scouts to the pros, the people who gauge hoops talent are racist. Maybe not overtly. But they are. Just like the rest of our society, these otherwise intelligent people truly believe in the dumb, degrading myth of the superior black athlete. That is, they truly believe that "White Men Can't Jump." Or, for that matter, Asians can't either—a notion that might come as a shock, for instance, to Zhu Jianhua, a former world record holder in the High Jump.
Which leads to Jake, wondering whether fans relate to Lin more for his perseverance than his race. Of course not. If Lin were a black man from Harvard playing the NBA, he would only be a great basketball story. As the child of Taiwanese immigrants, Lin is a powerful political and cultural symbol. Overseas, he's a thorn in China's side. But here at home he's a one-man Mythbusters—a dribbling, dunking stereotype debunker. Lin's every bucket repudiates the still widely-held, but flat-out Nazi-esque notion that there's even the slightest bit of a connection between skin tone and athletic ability. In so doing, in shattering another stereotype, he makes us all a little more free to dream.
So when Patrick wonders how many more like Lin are out there—people of whatever ethnic background who are dreaming big while crashing on someone's couch, I get chills thinking of it. My answer is: there's a few more now than last week because of #17, and we can all hope that his success Linspires them to dream on.