How popular is New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin after dropping a game-winning three pointer on the Toronto Raptors last night? Popular enough that President Obama’s press secretary thought it was time to drop the Harvard grad’s name in his morning press briefing.
Jay Carney, the ex-journalist turned presidential flack, said that Lin’s sudden emergence as a dominant NBA player was “just a great story, and the president was saying as much this morning,” and that Lin’s tale was a story that “transcends the sport itself.”
So, after just 44 career NBA games — Lin did get into 29 games last season with his hometown Golden State Warriors before joining the Knicks this season — the kid from Palo Alto is the biggest story in professional basketball, if not all of sports. Heck, in some precincts, there’s reason to believe that even the Communist regime in Beijing is wary of Lin’s popularity thanks to his devout Christianity.
With that sort of wave of popularity about to crest, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that some are calling for Lin’s inclusion in the NBA All-Star Game in Orlando later this month. Earlier today, USA Today put just that question to its online readers, and at my last look, 50% of readers who responded to the poll said Lin should be named to the team.
While I don’t doubt that plenty of folks would blanch at the idea, I think it has plenty of merit. Sure, you could argue that being named to the team is an honor that should only go to those who earn it on the court, but any All-Star Game is more about entertainment than it is about serious competition. That’s all the more the case with the NBA version, which more often degenerates into a delightful spectacle of unbridled offensive fireworks.
So here’s a memo for NBA Commissioner David Stern: After you take a moment fining Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban over his latest outburst, consider adding Lin to the roster after the fan vote is complete.
Eric McErlain blogs at Off Wing Opinion, a Forbes “Best of the Web” winner. In 2006 he wrote a “bloggers bill of rights” to help integrate bloggers into the Washington Capitals’ press box. Eric has also written for Deadspin, NBC Sports and the Sporting News, and covers sports television for The TV News. Follow Eric on Twitter.