The Charlotte Hornets seem to be pushing Kemba Walker to some sort of NBA award and maybe an All-NBA team mention with something of an awkward looking campaign, while Jeremy Lin is settling old scores by hitting three pointers when the game is basically over.
For some reason, scoring points when the win is no longer in doubt is frowned upon in American professional sports, especially the NBA and NFL. Hitting a shot on a final possession when you’re already winning isn’t considered classy. Two years ago Nicolas Batum did something like that in Portland Trailblazers uniform and had to apologize. Why? Some idiotic sense of class and respect in a sport with grown men who are supposed to do the best they can whenever they’re on the floor. Even if it a little bit of stat padding, if teams don’t want to get scored upon with the time running out, they can actually try playing some defense.
So Jeremy Lin, who has a little bit of beef with the New York Knicks with how things ended for him there four years ago, hit a three-point shot as the game was pretty much over, and online debate raged on. What did he mean by that? Why did he do it? Isn’t it disrespectful to the Knicks?
Personally, I think it was aimed at James Dolan. Lin wasn’t having a very good game (his elbow looking awful) and maybe wanted to leave the Madison Square Garden with a good feeling, plus make the huge amount of fans supporting him in that arena even in Hornets uniform happy. Maybe he was pissed off at Sasha Vujacic guarding him seriously on that last play, punishing him for it.
Again, to close the debate, I never understand what the big deal is with these things. Time is still on? Just like in boxing, never let your guard down. Vujacic didn’t, and Lin schooled him, although Vujacic isn’t exactly the best of even the lowest tier of defensive players.
The Hornets seem to be busy getting Walker voted in for something. Most Improved Player, All-NBA third team. They’re putting him in presidential campaign like situations. Standing in front of rallies. Kissing babies. Maybe the first time it was funny, but things got weird and a little bit embarrassing pretty quickly. I’m not sure pushing this issue is helping the players focus on their goal of finishing in the top 4.
The strange thing about the whole Walker campaign is that he doesn’t strike me as the kind of player who really needs to be constantly told he’s the number one player on the team. Yes, he loves the ball in his hands and get carried away with shooting, but this isn’t you classic ball hog case of doing everything for himself and f*** the team. Walker is liked by his teammates and sometimes (although not enough) he understands there’s a hotter hand and lets them take over.
But there are things beyond the whole player-team dynamic. The Hornets deal with Walker’s agent too, and agents sometimes do things without the players really involved in them. On a much grander scale, think of the Panama papers and the athletes involved: I’m pretty sure most of them had no idea what’s going on. It’s their accountants, money men and whoever else they surround themselves with that handle the finances. Maybe it’s just the perception I have of Walker as a nice guy, but I don’t think he came to the Hornets and forced their hand to give him a presidential-like campaign so he’ll win Most Improved Player.
And if Walker is up for that award (and maybe third-team All-NBA too?) why not do something similar for Lin when it comes to Sixth Man of the Year, where he’ll surely be picking up a few votes? Sometimes the Hornets do remember Lin, sometimes they completely forget. And does it come from the front office or the head coach? Clifford has gotten wins in some very difficult games thanks to Lin: Cavaliers, Raptors, Spurs. But Lin is more often than not “punished” for his performances in these games for some reason.
One theory is that with the players they have to re-sign at the end of the season, there’s not going to be anything left for Lin. Walker isn’t getting a new deal so they have him on an underpaid kind of salary. But Batum is going to get around $20 million, Courtney Lee needs a new deal and a raise, Al Jefferson is a free agent (not worth re-signing) and Marvin Williams becomes one too. Lin is going to opt out of the silly deal he’s on. Someone is going to be left out of this list, and Lin looks like the most likely one (probably better off for it), and it doesn’t have much to do with how good of a basketball player he really is. Maybe Lin’s three pointer wasn’t just about the Knicks.