|Comedian-Cabbie: What I’ve Learned from Jeremy Lin
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Posted: February 29, 2012
by Ted Greenberg
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I’d like to throw another pun onto the Lin court. “Lindiscretion, ” meaning a failed attempt that almost scores big but as it happens does little harm – a high aiming mistake of small negative consequence.
Lin makes many mistakes which in basketball are known as turnovers (when you flub things up and give up possession of the ball to your opponent). In the Knicks recent upsurge, Lin’s been averaging about 1 turnover for every 6 minutes he’s on the court. That leads the NBA.
During that same period of time the Knicks have 9 wins and 3 loses – their winningest percentage in recent memory. When asked about turnovers, head coach Mike D’Antoni responded “yeah we’d like to cut those down.” Not eliminate. Cut down.
Mistakes are affordable in basketball because a team gets about 90 possessions a game. So individual mistakes don’t kill you and rarely make the difference between winning and losing.
Most of Lin’s mistakes aren’t flat-out drops or flubs but mistakes of overreaching- passes threaded too narrowly or overheated pursuits to the hoop- that almost result in conversions. They are a high order of mistake, an overreaching, that result from aggressive play. He tries to get the most out of each possession.
Arguably, without the style of play that leads to Lin’s mistakes, the Knicks would not be winning. Consider that for every one turnover Lin commits, he creates (assists or scores himself) a score 3 times. That favorable ratio of conversions to errors is what counts.
And watch Lin after he commits a turnover. You never see Jeremy Lin kick a chair or overturn a water color or beat himself up. You wouldn’t know he’s made a mistake. He returns to the next play with his tail wagging. The joy of play never leaves him.
So watching Lin has been a lesson in resilience and cool-keeping, not beating yourself up and not backing down. Mistakes are part of a winning process. And in basketball, like many activities including my own, mistakes don’t shut you down and can propel you forward.
I’m a comedian. My act is improvisational and has been described as an unpredictable rollercoaster ride. It’s often sublime, always fun, but never perfect. Mistakes occur but the audience rarely notices and there’s no mistake I can’t recover from. And that’s why I take inspiration from the playing style of Jeremy Lin.
Tags: Jeremy Lin, knicks