Among the lively Jeremy Lin discussions online comes a theory explaining the current state of the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and Houston Rockets.
It’s simple: Get rid of Lin, and some sort of curse will befall your organization. Personally, I don’t believe in curses. The Charlotte Hornets have nothing to worry about, at least not when it comes to a curse rampaging through the franchise the day after Lin leaves.
The Knicks made the conference semifinals the season after Lin left to the Rockets. People were talking about Carmelo Anthony as an MVP for a while. The Knicks even had a hold of the Eastern conference lead for a short time. It was the first time since 2000 the team won a playoff series. It was only the third (and the last, so far) playoff series Anthony himself had the pleasure of being on the winning side of. But things quickly fell apart after that season with just 54 wins in the two following campaigns.
The arrival of Phil Jackson is supposedly a way of taking James Dolan out of the decision making equation. There’s a lot of criticism over Jackson, but was there a better team he could have assembled this season? Hiring Derek Fisher, in hindsight, was a mistake, clearly admitted by firing him midway through his second season. Re-signing Anthony might have been another mistake the Knicks will pay for in the future and are paying for now. But they’re not cursed. They’re just a pretty bad team, with decent flashes and a possibly developing European star in Kristaps Porzingis.
The interesting thing about the Houston Rockets is that without Jeremy Lin, after trading him to the Los Angeles Lakers, they made the conference finals. It was the first time they won a playoff series since 2009, and it was their first conference finals since 1997, back when Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler were playing for them. And yet there wasn’t a feeling of making the next step after the 2015 playoff experience was over. The 4-1 loss to the Warriors was more than humbling, it was humiliating.
And of course, this season was a slap in the face. Kevin McHale was fired after less than a month. That didn’t generate a special reaction. The Rockets are still a borderline playoff team. James Harden is the same player. Dwight Howard is declining. The Ty Lawson trade was a disaster, and bringing in Josh Smith in the middle of the season seems to work just once. The team Daryl Morey built seems like it doesn’t enjoy playing together, cares less and less about playing defense and most of the guys around Harden probably hate him.
This bring us to the Lakers. Lin played a part as the Lakers had their worst season in franchise history. Well, not a big part. Byron Scott pretty much disliked him openly right off the bat, and on a tanking team, even when Lin was playing well through the awful coaching it wasn’t what the team needed or wanted. It was a wasted season for Lin and everyone on the Lakers except for maybe Jordan Clarkson. No one played for anything.
This season? They’re even worse, right now with 13 wins, last in the Western conference, needing nine wins in the final 20 games, something that seems close to impossible for such a bad team, to make it to 22 wins and best last season. But that is what happens when a team is being held hostage by the ego of just one player, with a head coach who is more than happy to throw everyone under the bus as long as Kobe Bryant gets the retirement tour he wants.
So is there a Lin curse? Probably not. But if you do believe it, logic yourself into the thought that you’re right by saying that it’s like a computer virus that kicks in over a year after he’s gone. But it’s probably just a coincidence: Lin playing on teams built poorly or run by people who don’t really know what they’re doing. The Charlotte Hornets are doing OK and even more than that right now, but Lin is gone after the season is over. I wonder what’s going to happen next.