By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Discover. Share. Sensationalize. Debunk. Destroy.
That’s the 72 hour cycle that most interesting news stories follow, and the cycle that that has ruined the Jeremy Lin story for me in about a week.
Discover. By any account, the tale is a pretty amazing one. He played at Harvard, because his home town Stanford wasn’t really interested. He went un-drafted and was cut by two NBA teams, got his accidental chance in the country’s largest market, and scored a record number of points while leading the team, minus its two biggest stars, on a winning streak. Oh by the way, the guy’s Chinese, which if you haven’t noticed, isn’t particularly prevalent in the NBA. He’s sleeping on his brother’s couch, because he wasn’t sure if the Knicks would keep him on the roster. To top it off, by almost every account Lin is a good person.
Share. Nothing about that story isn’t amazing. So incredible in fact, I found myself cheering for him and the Knicks one night as Lin out-dueled Kobe Bryant. I dislike the Knicks with every ounce of my soul, but the world seemed like it’d be a better place if Lin and the Knicks won that game.
And then there was trouble.
Sensationalize. Instead of appreciating the story for what it was, the hype machine took over. They couldn’t keep the jersey on the shelves. The price of autographed Lin memorabilia went through the roof. The question actually started to be asked “what happens when Carmelo Anthony comes back?” And “will Anthony be able to fit in with Lin?” That maybe the Knicks would be better off without, you know, their best players.
He was the new Tim Tebow, even though the stories aren’t really similar at all. Tim Tebow was one of the most celebrated college football players of all time, and a first round draft pick, and not particularly skilled at his job, throwing a football. While Jeremy Lin was a college basketball unknown, a draft day afterthought, and pretty skilled at his jobs, scoring and passing. They were just similar in their Christian faith (rare, I know), and the fact that we were beating the stories to death.
Before you start blaming the “media” for this one, trust me when I tell you it’s not just the media. It’s Twitter, it’s Facebook, it’s all of us.
And then there was more trouble.
Debunk. Because then the myth that had become Jeremy Lin, in the span of a week, needed to torn down. Somehow we needed to prove that he’s not as good as we think he is. That there’s no way it can last. That he’s just a flash in the pan. Not so fast America, things in your rear view mirror may be closer than they appear.
Destroy. And we’re left with people on two sides of a non-existent argument. A bunch of people who never really thought he was definitely that good, against a bunch of people arguing that he’s not. It’s a straw man argument at its worst. And now, no matter how this ends, we’ll have to listen to one side chirping about how right they were.
And all the fun is ruined. The fun of a story that at one time would have been made into a movie, and is now just summed up by opposing side sports-talk TV shows with talking heads who needed a topic after Tebow went by the wayside. Whomever yells the loudest wins.
The underdog story used to end up Invincible. Now it’s destroyed before we know it.