Houston: Dolan Has a Problem

Before I go on, just get some background on what Jeremy Lin means to Mambino. KOBEsh and I experienced Lin’s 38-point effort against the Los Angeles Lakers, the peak of Linsanity, among fellow city-dwellers in NYC’s bar scene. (That’s bar scene, not sports bar scene.) Read his thoughts just hours after that game, and then come back here. Or don’t read it, but click the link. Because it’s ridiculous that the post, one of the best to grace TGM, is only 10th on the all-time list, trailing far-less deserving write-ups like Que-Ese’s on the NCAA bracket and my preview of the Exes season of MTV’s The Challenge.

Jeremy Lin is a popular guy these days. The Knicks have decided not to match Houston’s offer sheet, worth approximately 25 million dollars over 3 years. The pros and cons of retaining Lin’s services have been articulated far and wide, by minds with more sources and words with more eloquence than mine. As I’ve said plenty of times before, we strive to bring you Mambinites something that you may not find anywhere else; otherwise, what’s the point? If we only bring in the numbers from our friends and family, then we’re better off quitting.

To summarize, here are the major reasons for why YOUR New York Knickerbockers should sign Jeremy Lin for the next 3 years:

1. He is a marketing wunderkind. Madison Square Garden stock reached its high when Lin was ripping nets and dropping dimes to the surprise of nobody but himself. The Knicks, and the NBA, reached out to a demographic that had been relatively dormant since the retirement of Yao Ming, evidenced by merchandise sales, attendance at away games, and the exponential rise of Lin’s Twitter follower count. If you had listened to me and clicked on KOBEsh’s post, then you would have read that tapping into a new demographic would put a stamp on a race that has been looking for one since…ever. And the Bockers would always be associated with that. It’s more than just dollars and cents; it’s dollars and sense.
2. He is 23 years old. Many people like to point out the obvious deficiencies in his game: he’s not strong on the dribble, especially with his left hand; he has a propensity to turn the ball over when trapped by an aggressive defense; and he’s not exactly a lockdown defender. But…he’s 23! Why focus on the bad when there’s so much good? You’d be an idiot to think that a 23-year-old who’s willing to work won’t improve his game over the span of his career. Even in the Mike D’Antoni point guard-favored system, 15 ppg and 6 apg in 35 games is nothing to sneeze at. His per-48s look even better: 26 and 11. And then you stack that with the cojones that Lin displayed against the Lakers, Dallas Mavericks (28 and 14), and Toronto Raptors (game-winning 3 in Jose Calderon’s grill). I mean, just LISTEN to the crowd here:
3. The Knicks are not getting anything back in return for letting Lin walk! This will make me weep into my pillow every night for the foreseeable future. Why not match the offer sheet, and trade him? Would Houston really roll into the season without a point guard? Could Charlotte not use an influx of butts in seats?
But again, you could find those reasons everywhere else. Onto the good stuff:
I know it may be difficult to comprehend, but like all of you, I’ve made some decisions that weren’t so great.
Sad but true.
I’ve given the boot to dudes in my fantasy football league because they weren’t competitive enough. Now, I still believe that I’m 100% justified in taking those actions, but the mode of my message always displayed a side of me that isn’t synonymous with “fun.” By kicking people out because they couldn’t live up to a high standard, I had the audacity just to set the standard to begin with. I declared that mistakes or human errors would have no place in my league. And while it’s still good for a joke every now and then, ruthlessness just doesn’t belong in fantasy sports.
But I was running a make-believe league. I wasn’t in charge of one of the most historic franchises in all of sports. (And when I say “historic,” I mean it relative to other teams that have only won two titles.) Only a select few hung on to every ruling I made. In the Knicks’ case, we have a he-said-she-said game between owner and player that echoed around the basketball universe. Player wants owner to make first offer, owner lets player ascertain player’s market value, player begrudgingly finds market value, owner plans to match, player goes back and increases his market value, owner gets mad and shuts the door. James Dolan stupidly set the standard at which he was designed to fail by letting Lin test the free agent market. When Lin did as he was told, Dolan smirked his stupid smirk, as if he couldn’t contemplate that a point guard-needy team would overpay…a POINT GUARD. Assuredly, Lin made mistakes by boo-hooing about how the Knicks should have made the first offer and by going back to Rockets GM Daryl Morey to make Year 3 even more of a poison pill, but Dolan can’t use that as a basis to run a business operation worth 655 million dollars. Not facing my football pot of a measly $1200, Dolan has a responsibility to put forth the best product each and every night for the city that never sleeps, and his cowardly ruthlessness has once again gotten the best of him.
I started a friendly, platonic relationship with a girl that my now ex would have burned at the stake. Behind her back. Yikes, bad boyfriend alert: but girls don’t read me, right? I stupidly felt invincible, that others’ feelings took a backseat to mine. Of course, something like this only begins to scratch the surface of problems between two people. And that makes that particular decision funny, because things have worked out for the both of us since then (or so I assume).
Maybe Raymond Felton will have a career year just to stick it to all the nay-sayers who wanted Lin to quarterback Madison Square Garden. Maybe Jason Kidd will benefit from decreased minutes and more downtime in the Hamptons. (Too soon? Had to.) And even if Linsanity stayed with the one team that showcased his talents to the world, the team wouldn’t get that far without an MVP season from Carmelo Anthony and a bounce-back campaign from Amar’e Stoudemire. But Dolan told Lin, every Knick fan, and every New Yorker, that he’s invincible. He doesn’t need a 23-year-old marketing cash cow that brings the NBA a new set of fans; he doesn’t need him to the point that he’s fine without getting anything in return for letting Lin go. Dolan doesn’t care what anybody else thinks. To a certain extent, that’s pretty admirable.
Only here, it’s not.
Anthony told the media that Lin’s contract offer with Houston was “ridiculous,” implying that if he made the bigwig decisions, Lin would have been a Rocket last week. J.R. Smith told the media that if the Knicks matched, the contract could create problems within the locker room, since vets like himself (Christ, it feels wrong to call J.R. freaking Smith an NBA veteran) would be making far less than the 35-game Asian prospect out of Harvard. I was so ready for the Jeremy Lin era to mark a new beginning for James Dolan. By tossing such trash comments from Anthony and Smith to side, and signing the bane of their existence, Dolan would have said, “it ain’t show-friends, it’s show-business.”
He would have made the right personnel move, the right business move, and the right everything move. He would have let the world know that the greatest city in the world is run by JD and the mufuggin’ Straight Shot, a man that doesn’t listen to the noise.
James Dolan didn’t make that move, but he just so happened to remind us who is running things. It is beyond devastating to lose Jeremy Lin.
But remember, guys, we don’t root for people. We root for laundry. GoNYgoNYgo.

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