Jeremy Lin is an extremely popular player. He was when Linsanity came to life last February and while the initial hype died down, he’s still an extremely well-liked player with a very large fan base. What this has translated to is a lot of All-Star votes, enough to make him third among guards in the Western Conference. While a lot of those votes have come from China, he has quite a lot of fans in the U.S. as well.
The question is, does he deserve to be an All-Star?
When looking at the numbers objectively, the answer is probably no. There are several other point guards in the West who have had better seasons than Lin, such as Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry and Mike Conley. Granted, Paul has received more votes than Lin, but everyone else is trailing him considerably. This means it’s a virtual guarantee that a more deserving player well be left sitting at home to make room for Lin.
This sounds sad, but it in the history of the All-Star Game, it’s actually fairly common. Players who don’t actually deserve to make it get voted in based on name recognition all the time. Shaquille O’Neal and Allen Iverson were both virtual locks every year, long after they were past their prime. Michael Jordan probably didn’t deserve all the votes he got during his final two middling years with the Wizards. Finally, two years ago, Yao Ming was getting votes even though he had played in only five games all year, benefiting from the same Chinese fan base currently voting for Lin.
So, this is hardly a new thing, but should it be a big deal? After all, every other player who got into the All-Star Game based solely on name recognition had been a legitimate star earlier in their career and had only recently begun to coast by on their famous names. As for Lin, he’s never had a full season of all-star level play. Granted, he certainly hasn’t been terrible this year; in fact, he’s actually looked pretty good in the past few weeks. Still, he hasn’t been consistently good enough to make it on merit, so he’ll likely go down as the first player to make the All-Star Game based on name recognition without first putting up a legitimate all-star resume.
Of course, this isn’t really his fault. Lin is a good player, who occasionally looks like a great player. It’s not such a huge travesty that he’ll get in, but it is a shame that a better player like Curry probably won’t make it because of this. So, what’s the solution? Well, I don’t think he should sit out the game. There’s a large fanbase that wants to see him play and he should oblige. Plus, admitting you’re not good enough to be in the All-Star Game would simply be embarrassing (even if it’s true) and all it would do is hurt Lin’s reputation. When you consider that Lin’s own Houston Rockets are hosting the proceedings, that’s all the more reason why he should answer the call.
So, what’s the solution here? How does Lin’s selection to the All-Star Game not look like a total farce? Well, it depends on what he does between now and February. Lin’s biggest problem this year has been consistency. When he’s been on his game, he’s looked like someone who might actually be a legitimate all-star. Unfortunately, he also has games where he barely shoots the ball and winds up with more turnovers than assists. If he can begin to eliminate those sorts of games, and have more nights where he looks like the breakout star we saw in New York, his all-star selection might not seem so egregious.
Jeremy Lin is going to be an All-Star whether we like it or not. He’s simply too popular for that not to be the case. Whether that seems like a complete sham, or something completely reasonable depends on how Lin performs in the next six weeks. If Lin can make good on his recent hot streak, he won’t look out of place on the All-Star court. If he falls back into old habits and makes too many foolish turnovers, he could be one of the most perplexing all-star picks of all-time. It all depends on what he does next. Lin is electric player when he’s on his game, so I hope for his sake and for the league’s that he pulls through and reminds us all what he’s capable of.
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