The year was 2012. I was living in Austin with my darling wife and kids, except there’s a twist: I didn’t have a wife OR kids. Instead, I was sitting in an Austin dive with some buds when something unexpected happened. This was the type of bar that played old movies on the TV, but that night was different. On the screen was an NBA game — the Knicks opposite the Nets — and what followed changed my life forever. There, on the screen, in all his glory, was Jeremy Lin, and no one could have predicted what would happen next. The moment I saw him, I dropped my beer onto an unsuspecting floor. I knew it then and I know it now. I had Linsanity. And I had it bad.
From that moment forward, I got caught up in the same frenzy that swept the media and the nation. I had a Knicks #17 jersey, bumper stickers, coffee cups — I even cut my hair like Jeremy to show my support. I wasn’t often in the habit of eating a nice dinner at home, but when I did, I’d leave an empty chair in case He came by for a bite to eat. At the risk of hyperbole, I lived and breathed Jeremy Lin.
And then a few months passed. The Twitterverse moved on. The blogs moved on. Hell, even my friends moved on. I was stuck. “Say hello to my Lin-tle friend,” I remember saying one morning, to myself, as I put some toothpaste on a toothbrush. That was before I stopped taking care of myself. In an effort to stay well-versed in the basics of Linsanity, I started to rewatch every game I could on my DVR.
Night after night, day after day, I watched Jeremy Lin play games. I watched interviews. I read and re-read tweets. I refused to write my landlord any checks that didn’t end with the number 7. I worked on my young adult novel, “A Lin-kle in Time.” I stopped taking calls from my girlfriend. From my parents. From myself.
And that’s when it hit me. Jeremy Lin is just okay. He’s good — certainly a better baller than I could ever be — but not that good. With a career average of 11.8 points per game, my four-star hero was really more like an 11.8-star on a 20-star scale. That's when I knew I needed help.
Two years passed and I was still suffering from severe Linsanity when I found myself boarding a plane for my annual pilgrimage to the Barclays Center. I got a ping on my cell phone. “Your Sprint account is past due. Your coverage will cease in one hour. Visit sprint.com for more details. Reply ‘STOP’ to stop messages. Reply ‘HELP’ for instructions.” Great. Just what I needed. A weekend in the Big Apple with a big fat zero signal on my cell phone.
At this point I began cursing loudly in the aisle of the airplane. “Personal foul!” I screamed. “Sir, please find your seat,” the attendant asked. “Traveling!” I rebutted. It seemed I only knew how to get angry about basketball. It was Jeremy’s world and I was living in it. That’s when I knew I was right the first time I knew I needed help.
Cut to a dive bar in Brooklyn, one day later. Naturally, I couldn’t get into the game as I no longer had a job to pay for tickets, but there he was on the big screen: Jeremy Lin. As always, I had my beer in one hand and my lucky model of The Spirit of St. Louis in the other (The Spirit is the plane used for the first ever solo flight over the Atlantic by Charles Lin-dbergh in 1927). Fresh from my episode the day before, I knew that this game would be different. Looking at Jeremy on the TV, I worked up the courage to let out a firm, “no,” under my breath. It would be the first and last time told Jeremy Lin, “no.”
I handed my beer back to the bartender and walked right out the door. From that moment forward, I didn’t think about Jeremy. I didn’t talk about Jeremy. I didn’t want anything to do with Jeremy. I called my girlfriend from a pay phone to tell her the good news but couldn’t remember her number and also remembered she had broken things off three years earlier. That didn’t matter. Nothing mattered in that moment except my freedom and my lack of a place to stay for the next three nights in Brooklyn.
Looking back on that weekend now, I don’t think I would have done it differently. Maybe I could have just gotten off the plane instead of wasting a bunch of money booking a hotel last minute. Maybe I could have told Jeremy off four years earlier before my life fell apart. Perhaps with the exception of those two things, I wouldn’t change a thing.