When the Knicks didn't match Houston’s offer sheet for Jeremy Lin in the summer of 2012, it struck me as cruel. Knicks fans had struggled through any number of confounding contracts, bizarre trades, brooding malcontents, and embarrassing scandals, yet had stuck by the team. It hurt to see Lin, who had saved their season and single-handedly generated a buzz that a decade's worth of big-name free agents and trade acquisitions never came close to generating, walk away for nothing. It was like catching lightning in a bottle and turning in the bottle for the nickel recycling fee. Writing as an Asian American and a Knicks fan, it was a truly brutal blow.
In case you were rocking a CFL jersey in court, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday:
Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts once again used their comeback magic to eke out a 30-27 win over the Tennessee Titans. "Wow, we were pretty fortunate to get that win," Luck said after the game. When asked by reporters to phrase his comments another way, Luck replied, "It was a hell of a fortuitous outcome, that's for sure. Chance favored us, as we were blessed with kismet." When asked again to phrase what he was saying in perhaps a simpler and more headline-friendly way, Luck said, "Oh, I see. Well, I would say we struck gold with this team. I would say the win was in the cards. Some may say we caught the breaks, that our run has been a fluke, that the gods were smiling upon us, that victory and my team were joined by serendipity. I mean, we got horseshoes on our helmets and clovers in our pockets, so what would you expect?" Luck then glared at the assembled media and added, "Suck it, for me."
Andre Iguodala's buzzer-beater was the difference as the Golden State Warriors beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, 116-115, in a riveting Western Conference battle. "Another tough loss, but we're so close," an optimistic Kevin Durant said at the postgame press conference. "I mean, we're just one player away from being really good. And it's no one's fault that we don't have that guy. This front office and ownership group has only made smart decisions." Durant then went to take a sip of water, when things went horribly awry. Durant started shooting sparks out of his mouth, and saying in a horrific robotic voice, "FAILURE, ROBOTIC FAILURE, MUST POWER DOWN, WHY WOULD YOU PROGRAM ME TO FEEL PAIN?" before collapsing to the ground and bursting into flames. Suddenly, a human Durant burst into the room yelling, "They drugged me! They didn't want me to talk," before looking at his robotic double dying on the ground at his feet. "You tried to play God, you monsters!" Durant yelled, as he held his robot double's head in his hands. "All to save a couple million bucks on the Harden deal. This robot must have cost that much. Curse you, Clay Bennett! Curse you!"
So much amazing is happening, and the Shootaround crew is back to help you keep track of it all. You'll find takes on moments you might've missed from the previous night, along with ones you will remember forever.
In the lead-up to the 2013-14 NBA season, Grantland will examine key players — X factors — for contending teams. Shea Serrano talked to James Harden and Jeremy Lin about Lin’s role this season.
Me: Yo. Harden: Nope. Me: Dude, come on. Real quick. Two things: Harden: go fast Me: got it. One: Do you have Jeremy Lin’s number? I’m working on this thing and I need to ask him some questions. Harden: Is it weird? Me: what? No. it’s about the x factor on championship contenders, which you guys are this year. Harden: OK. I’ll send you the card. Me: thank you. And the second thing. Harden: uh-huh Me: how many times have you been in the middle of lovemaking and had a small woodland creature crawl out of your beard? Me: does that happen a lot? Me: and when it does happen does the girl freak? Me: or is she cool about, like, “oh hey. What’s up, tiny adorable squirrel?” Me: because my dad always said that a girl that’ll stand by after an animal has crawled out of you is worth marrying. That’s how him and my mom got together.
[No response.] Me: hello?
[No response.] Me: OK cool. Thanks for Lin’s number.
Jeremy Lin is pushing the ball up the floor at a hellacious pace. Confronted with one defender near the free throw line, then another to his left, and later a third to his right, Lin picks up the ball, spins around and between all three bodies, and softly lofts a layup that touches off the glass and falls straight through the hoop. If that image conjures memories of the winding, spinning banker Lin dropped over Derek Fisher, Troy Murphy, and Matt Barnes in his 38-point, seven-assist masterpiece against the Los Angeles Lakers, you’re not alone. But this footage wasn’t taken from Lin’s sensational February 2012 run of play in Madison Square Garden and other arenas around the NBA; it was from his preteen YMCA days in northern California.
Linsanity, the Evan Jackson Leong–directed documentary about Lin’s life and career, was originally conceived as an idea for a six-episode web series but eventually morphed into so much more. The 88-minute feature film charts Lin’s rise from under-recruited high school stud to worldwide phenomenon, making sure to cover his stints as an Ivy League superstar, NBA benchwarmer, frustrated D-Leaguer, and everything else in between.
Interspersed with footage from his youth, high school, college, D-League, and NBA games are revealing interviews with Lin’s mother and father; his two brothers; various coaches and front-office personnel from high school, college, and the NBA; media members who covered Lin at Harvard or in his NBA career; and Lin himself. While the film studiously chronicles Lin’s rise as a basketball player, it also takes time to let viewers glimpse a bit of his personality.
Lin’s proud Christianity is an indelible part of his image and obviously permeates the film’s themes of faith and perseverance, but his love of The Lion King (as recently as his rookie season, Lin still had a blanket from his childhood with images of Simba, Nala, Timon, and Pumba on it), aversion to doing laundry (“If I don’t do laundry now, I definitely won’t do it when I’m married”), hilariously bad singing voice (the footage of Lin and his mother butchering karaoke on a family trip to Taiwan is far and away the film’s funniest moment), and talent for the piano are some of his lesser-known qualities that the film brings to light.
Grantland had the opportunity to discuss the film, the process, and the parallel rises of subject and project in one-on-one sit-downs with producer Brian Yang and director Evan Jackson Leong a few weeks ago. What follows is an edited transcript of our chats.
What's that? You were wondering exactly how many days until the start of the NBA season? Well, you're in luck! The Triangle is counting down the days for all of us.
There's a movement building in Houston, and it's only minorly related to Dwight Howard. It's not even about James Harden. This is about Chandler Parsons chasing stardom.
It has been a busy summer for him. In case you haven't been closely monitoring his Twitter feed, here's what you missed these past few months. Following the Rockets' loss in the playoffs, Parsons hit the red-carpet circuit hard. Stops have included the Billboard Music Awards, the ESPYS, the Paranoiapremiere, and The Familypremiere. At all times his hair has been carefully coifed, each time with slight deviations and experiments.
In case you were busy wishing you could just be a linebacker, and not the go-to name when someone gets tricked on the Internet, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday:
Chris Davis's 12th-inning single gave the Orioles a 5-3 win over Boston, leaving the Red Sox's magic number for clinching the AL East at three. "Yeah it is. Oh, three, is a magic number," Red Sox manager John Farrell sang after the game before leading his team in a Schoolhouse Rock sing-along that both raised team morale and clarified for second baseman Dustin Pedroia exactly how a bill becomes a law.
Desmond Jennings's walk-off single was the final blow in the Tampa Bay Rays' back-and-forth extra-inning 4-3 win over the Texas Rangers. "Even if we have a lot of kids and other team's rejects, we have a great team spirit that I think is going to bring us into the postseason," said Rays manager Joe Maddon, who was dressed as Oscar the Grouch in a strange bit of morale-draining one-upmanship. "Because we here in Tampa love trash. We love it because it's trash."
When Dwight Howard made his move to Texas, it gave the Houston Rockets the second star the team had been hoping to acquire since last season’s trade for James Harden. The presence of the seven-time All-Star center is certainly a boost to the organization’s title aspirations, but because of Howard’s arrival, incumbent starter Omer Asik — a vital part of last season’s success — now finds himself in basketball limbo, unsure of whether his next stop is a new team, a new role, or a new position. How the Rockets proceed with the Turkish big man will determine how, and most importantly how well, the team will play next season.
The NBA playoffs are in full swing, and as the amazing continues to happen, the Grantland crew wants to help you buff up on some of the lesser-known faces who are populating basketball's second season.
Who Is He? Patrick Beverley.
Where Is He From? Arkansas.
Years Played: Rookie.
What’s His Salary? $298,092.
His Game in 25 Words or Fewer: Athletic point guard who can get to (and finish) at the rim, as well as shoot from 3. A willing and effective on-ball defender.
In case you were out just driving, man, just hitting the open road, here's what you missed in sports Tuesday.
The Houston Rockets tied the NBA record for 3-pointers but were denied the record outright after a flurry of ejections marred the end of their 140-109 win over the Golden State Warriors. Houston point guard Jeremy Lin, who led the way for the Rockets with 28 points and nine assists, said after the game, "It was total Linsanity out there, huh?" before pausing dramatically for effect. "I mean, I've seen some things in my day, but that was totally Linsane." Lin then paused again, before admitting, "Guys, I have a lot of T-shirts to move, so if you could remind people of Linsanity, that would be really great. My cousin is all like, 'Get these boxes out of my garage,' and I'm like, 'Whatever, Tom. You said I could leave them in there as long as I needed,' and he's all like, 'Yeah, but I thought they'd be gone in a week,' and I was all like, 'Yeah, me, too.'"
Here's a video of Lionel Messi scoring 86 goals in the year of our Maradona, 2012, breaking Gerd Muller's record of 85 goals for club and country in a calendar year.
It's hard to pick just one. There was the cheeky chip against Valencia, a shooting-star free kick against Atletico Madrid, the time he froze the Bayer Leverkusen backline in carbonite like a bunch of German Han Solos, and when he invented the geometry of the future against Granada. I liked when he backed a pickup truck into a compact parking spot on the roof of Zaragoza's keeper's garage, and when he made Philippe Senderos look like Lennie from Of Mice and Men against Switzerland. I loved the free kicks against Uruguay and Real Madrid, and the snapshot against Deportivo La Coruña. Nobody's better at their chosen sport than Lionel Messi is at football, right now. Watching him score 86 goals, either during the games, or in YouTube compilations, for Barcelona or for Argentina, was one of the greatest gifts we received this year. He'll be justly rewarded for these accomplishments with trophies and silverware, but I just wanted to give him my thanks. Watching him play is one of the best things I did with my time this year. — Chris Ryan
I was standing outside of Madison Square Garden, waiting for my friend, when a middle-aged Asian American man in a fancy suit walked by me and smiled. It wasn’t quite like the throes of Linsanity, when a new constituency of Knicks fans began showing up to the Garden, but last night’s game against the Houston Rockets definitely had a different, faintly festive vibe to it. Someone surged toward the man in the suit and asked him what entrance he should use for his seats, and he didn’t seem to understand when the man in the suit told him he didn’t work at the Garden. The man in the suit looked at me again, not smiling this time. Everyone projects whatever they want onto a man wearing a suit. My friend showed up a few minutes later, we shuffled into the Garden, and cheerfully bought some beer and two bowls of sesame chicken noodles.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Monday.
Mark Sanchez finished with five turnovers, including three on the final three possessions, as the Jets lost to the Titans, 14-10, and were eliminated from playoff contention. "So many asses," said Sanchez ruefully. "Just so many asses out there, getting in the way of good football. This sport used to mean something. Now they just put you out there like a Christian in the lion's den, attacked by a thousand asses."
How many adjustments does a team need to make before you just throw up your hands and call it broken? If you read any of the papers in Los Angeles or listen to any sports talk radio or scan through the dozens of purple-and-gold blogs, you’d believe there must be some master solution that will make all the Lakers' disparate parts cohere into some unstoppable basketball force. Once Dwight learns to play with Pau, everything will be fine. Or once Nash learns to play alongside Kobe, the team will stop looking slow and confused on offense. Or once the bench players find their roles, the second unit will look like something more than five random dudes who happen to be standing on a basketball court together.
Up until last week, the dominant excuse/adjustment was something called the “Princeton offense,” which, due to its Ivy League origins and all the requisite unathletic associations, never sat well with the locals who had grown up with Showtime and Shaq. (As a side note, the Princeton offense was mostly a branding problem — if Mike Brown had just called it “the system” and not said a word about New Jersey’s capital of secret societies and lax bros, every sound bite about Princeton and the Lakers would never have existed. They still might have lost a ton of games under Brown, but he at least wouldn’t have been the guy who — gasp! — tried to get Kobe Bryant to play within something as uncool as the Princeton offense.)
Now that Mike Brown and Princeton have bowed out of the Lakers excuse show, the adjustment story has shifted over to Mike D’Antoni and his own system and what will happen when Steve Nash comes back from his injury. That particular story line won’t even get started until Nash comes back sometime next month, which will then set off its own little barrage of separate adjustment stories. And ad infinitum till the Lakers either win or, more likely, do not win the NBA championship.