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by Kevin Coupe

Let me be up front about something. I’m not a big basketball guy. I’ve been to maybe a couple of college games in my life, one pro game (albeit one in which Michael Jordan played), never watch it on TV and routinely get beaten in “21” by my wife and kids out in the driveway.

And yet there I was last night, watching pieces of the New York Knicks - Sacramento Kings game on TV. How could I not? The rest of the world - save for the folks in NYC who have seen the games blacked out because of a cable company dispute - seems to be.

It seems to be a great lesson in having the right person in the right place at the right time. It also seems to be a great lesson in the importance not just of scoring, but of making assists ... of passing the ball to someone else when it seems appropriate.

As I understand it (and true basketball fans are wincing right now), Jeremy Lin is a relatively uncelebrated professional basketball player and Harvard University graduate who played briefly for the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets before being claimed by the Knicks off waivers. Since becoming a starter - only because somebody else was hurt - Lin has helped propel the Knicks to seven straight wins. With their win last night, the Knicks got back to .500 for the first time in almost a month. And Lin has become one of the most celebrated players on the court - igniting people’s enthusiasm for the Knicks, the ratings, and even the stock price for the company that owns the team. He may even have saved the job, at least temporarily, of Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni. And, amazingly, just says before Lin became the starting point guard, the team was thinking about cutting him.

All of which speaks to the power of both ability and execution, and the importance of allowing people to achieve their potential.

But here’s what I only really understood after watching last night’s game.

In the previous six games, as Lin was inflaming the passions of basketball fans, he was doing it by scoring. But last night, he only scored 10 points. But he finished the night with 13 assists, which experts say was even more important because a) he is making the people around him better, and b) and it shows he knows how to run the offense from the floor.

Here’s how the NY Daily News describes it this morning:

“For the first time in three games, there was no need for Lin to produce a last-second miracle or manufacture a fourth-quarter bailout. In fact, Lin watched the final period from the comfort of the Knicks’ bench after having done most of his damage before halftime. More important, he beat the Kings with his vision, passing and smarts. Yes, the Knicks really do have a point guard.”

My eyes have been opened. I think I’m a fan.
KC's View: