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Why Kevin Durant Should Choose the Knicks in Free Agency

So I’ve had a lot of free time during my Sabbatical, and while pondering relatively heavy topics along with the rest of the country in recent days, my mind has meandered to other (less) significant topics like NBA Free Agency.

Specifically, I’ve been thinking about Kevin Durant and the team he will play for next season (and Jeremy Lin, of course, but Durant seems to carry a bit more intrigue around the country right now).

Put simply, I think Durant should choose to play for the Knicks.

Before you label me foolish or misguided, please allow me to list why he should choose the Knicks over everyone else.

1) The Knicks play in the Eastern Conference, a far more desirable Conference to play in than the West.  If Durant’s main goal is to win a championship, then it makes sense that the easiest path to the Championship goes through the East.

Of course, the Cavs are the defending champs and defeating them is no small task, but the last I checked the Western Conference still has perennial winners in the Golden State Warriors, the Spurs, the Thunder, the Clippers, and the up-and-coming T-wolves and Pelicans.  The Eastern Conference offers a far easier path to the Championship than the Western Conference – both now and in the foreseeable future.

2) Of the 3 Eastern Conference Teams that Durant will meet with – Boston, Miami, and the Knicks – the Knicks have the best supporting cast.  I know, this is arguable, especially since both the Celtics and Heat performed far better than the Knicks last year (almost everyone performed better than the Knicks, btw).

However, the trade for Rose changes everything.  I should clarify – the trade for Rose in his contract year changes everything.

I know Bulls fans might be skeptical of Rose’s ability to stay healthy, but if he is healthy, the trio of Rose (contract year, 27 years-old, transcendent talent if he’s on top of his game), Porzingis (potentially transcendent player who’s only 21?!?!), and Melo (transcendent talent whom I hope is not past his prime).

Moreover, if Rose doesn’t work out, Durant can recruit Westbrook to come play in New York next year.

Which of the other Eastern Conference teams can offer this kind of combination of youth/talent?  Boston has youth but they’re not quite as talented, and Miami has talent but they’re not quite as young (even Whiteside seems uncertain that he’ll stay).

Moreover, this is NEW YORK CITY we’re talking about.

Winning ONE championship in New York would mean more than winning multiple championships anywhere else.

I know, this makes NO sense to non-New Yorkers.

But ANYONE who’s lived in NYC knows what I’m talking about, and knows that it’s true.

3) Why Durant shouldn’t join any of the other Western Conference Teams 

  • The Clippers – I’m surprised they got a meeting.  I don’t think they have the talent/youth to make a case for being a perennial winner, especially in the Western Conference.
  • The Warriors – As good a thing as the Warriors have going on, I can’t imagine that Durant would join a historically great team to chase a ring.  I know people dogged Lebron for ring-chasing by joining the Heat, but there’s no way that can compare to Durant joining a 73-win team as a free agent.  Granted, I think Steph is awesome and is one of the most humble superstars whom anyone would love to play with, but yeah, I just can’t see Durant joining them because it would be almost too easy.
    • Sidenote: In addition, it must be SO awkward right now on the Olympic Team.  With Klay, Draymond, and Barnes playing on the squad (along with Durant), how weird must it be for them knowing that if Durant comes, Barnes has to go.  While Melo can be unabashed in his wooing of KD, Klay and Draymond must understandably walk a fine line when talking about Durant, especially if they’re pals with Barnes, which the team chemistry on GSW seems to indicate.
  • The Spurs – I don’t think Durant can choose the Spurs over OKC, especially after OKC beat them in the playoffs this year.  I’m sure any consideration of the Spurs would stop when Westbrook gets in Durant’s ear and says, “How can you join them after we beat them in 6?!”
  • The Thunder – I seriously think it’s going to come down to the Thunder or the Knicks, especially after the Ibaka-Oladipo trade last week.  Seriously, the Thunder are loaded with Oladipo/Sabonis, and with Adams’ emergence, I think the Thunder are going to have some major swag heading into next season if their full team comes back. The only thing that makes OKC less desirable is…
    • Familiarity Breeds Boredom – I wonder if KD wants to feel what it’s like to play somewhere else.  I think Lebron had a little bit of this when he joined Miami.  I think we all do.  The grass can seem greener somewhere else.
    • Westbrook’s Team Now? – I wonder if KD would like to go to a team where he’s the clear go-to guy.  I think his friendship with Russell is real, but yeah, I’m wondering if KD would like to go somewhere where he’s clearly the #1 option. Sidenote: This is also what makes the GSW jump less likely.  I think it’d be personal if Durant leaves Westbrook to play with Curry.  This might be reading too much into it, but yeah, since Russ & KD are boys, I think Westbrook would be hurt/angered if Durant went to GSW, and I think Durant would also feel disloyal if he were to do that to Russ.  Uh, this is obviously total conjecture because I know neither Russ nor KD personally.
    • How important is it for Durant to play in the Eastern Conference?  Again, if this matters to KD – which I think it should – then I think KD should choose the Knicks.

One super-random wild card in all this is that KD considers Carl Lentz, pastor of Hillsong NY, his good friend and pastor.  I love it.

Carl, let’s make this happen.

So there you have it.

KD, become a legend in NYC.

Reasons Why I’m a Huge Jeremy Lin Fan

Jeremy Lin is my favorite basketball player.

There are so many things to like about this guy, and I’ll outline why I’m such a big fan in this post.

Jeremy Lin's game is like a slasher/playmaker.

Either way, it’s been fun following his career up until now, and I’ve been thrilled to pieces over his signing with the Golden State Warriors.  Granted, he still has to perform well, but even making it this far is quite an accomplishment.  I have little doubt that he’ll do everything he can to take his game to another level.

I remember first hearing about him after Harvard beat BC, who had just beaten the #1 ranked UNC Tarheels.  After that, I googled him and found out that Lin was the California State Player of the Year and State Champion in Division II basketball in California.  I won’t go into why this is such an impressive accomplishment as a high school player, but this is a very BIG deal considering the talent that comes out of California from the prep ranks.

Shortly after the BC game, I remember having a conversation with David Park, my brother in law and former Harvard player himself, about the case for Jeremy playing in the NBA.  Fun times.

After that, I tried to catch as many games as I could, and thanks to this guy – poor man’s commish – I was able to follow Jeremy’s path to the NBA quite closely.  Poor Man’s Commish did an amazing job of making the case for Jeremy as an NBA player, and I’m so grateful for all of his efforts.

I watched as many games as I could (Harvard games are hard to find), saw him play live at Columbia (and even met his mom), watched the entire NBA draft just to see if Jeremy would get drafted, then watched every single one of Jeremy’s summer league games on TV.

I’m so proud of the guy.

Anyhow, here’s why I like the guy so much (besides the obvious fact that he’s Asian American).

1)  He’s a committed Christian – Check out this interview and this one.  Jeremy wants to be a pastor in an urban community one day.  Now, this alone is something that gets me excited, but I think there’s something about his game, his effort, and his accomplishments that seem to reflect so much of what we believe as Christians.  I’ll expound on this later.

2)  He’s been an underdog most of the time – To some degree, it’s hard to argue that a Harvard grad has been an underdog, but when you consider Harvard basketball vs the rest of the NCAA, it’s a true underdog story (even if he went to Princeton, more folks may have seen him as a more legit prospect).


Jeremy has constantly proved detractors wrong.

Jeremy was not offered a Division 1 scholarship out of high school, even though he was the State Player of the Year.  That’s crazy.  I don’t think that’s ever happened before (I’ll leave the research to poor man’s commish).  Some suggest it’s because he’s Asian-American… it’d be hard to argue otherwise, considering he played in arguably the best state when it comes to prep basketball.  Btw, his team (Palo Alto) beat Mater Dei, a perennial powerhouse in Southern California.

– Jeremy played for Harvard, and he helped turn them into a winner. Again, Harvard has never been known for its basketball program, and yet they were on the cusp of the NCAA tournament this year.  He played well against bigger named schools (he even dropped 30 points on UCONN and Jim Calhoun said he could play with anybody), but…

Jeremy went undrafted – Even though Jeremy put up some record breaking numbers at Harvard and led them to winning seasons, he went undrafted because people didn’t think he could play at the NBA level.  Most folks counted him out because of his perceived lack of athleticism.

– Even on the summer league team, Jeremy had to claw for minutes – The Mavs had two former first round picks playing ahead of him at guard (Beaubois and Jones), and while they’re great players, Jeremy still had to show his game in limited minutes.  Beaubois battled some injuries, which allowed Jeremy to get more minutes than normal against John Wall.

I love that Jeremy has persevered so much, even despite all the setbacks and disappointments.  I haven’t even mentioned the racial slurs and all the stereotypical stuff.

And yet, Jeremy hasn’t backed down, even against the #1 pick in the draft.  Just watch these highlights and watch Jeremy’s fearlessness.  The kid doesn’t back down from anyone.

Now, it’s a bit ridiculous to say that Lin is better than Wall or that he’s even with Wall in terms of production.  But, I think it’s fair to say that Jeremy is just as strong a competitor as Wall.

I think this says something about Jeremy’s faith, a fighting spirit that is confident yet humble, working hard to beat the odds.

3)  Jeremy’s type of game beats so many stereotypes – First, one would expect a guy from Harvard to have a specialist game of some sort, a la Chris Dudley, rebounding machine from Yale.

Moreover, one would expect an Asian American to be a dead-eye shooter of some sort, making up for a lack of athleticism or size.

But Jeremy’s a slasher/playmaker. He plays great D, has an unorthodox shot, and is fearless going to the rim.

And he plays so hard – his motor is constantly going.

I love it.   

4)  He loves basketball and has excelled in it – This point relates more to what I think about him being a Christian athlete.  Too many times Christians believe that to excel at anything outside of Bible Study, prayer, etc is to be a less devoted follower.  And yet, here’s someone who identifies first with Christ, and still has the guts to work hard and excel in a game he loves.

Christians often pit the two as mutually exclusive – excellence in faith and excellence in work.  But Jeremy is a model that it’s okay, and even ideal, to be excellent at both, and that by doing so, excellent work is a spiritual enterprise.

5) He went to Harvard – This story would be different if Jeremy went to UNC or UCLA.  That’s the typical route to the NBA, and it would allow people to validate his athletic prowess alone.

But for Asian Americans, Jeremy would be a weird anomaly, someone who was a freak athlete and that’s it.

In a weird way, Jeremy going to Harvard allows more Asian Americans to relate to him because he didn’t go on a basketball scholarship – he just went to the best school where he was accepted as a student and where he thought he could play ball.

Now, it’s crazy that Jeremy went to Harvard of all places, the second best school in the country (to Berkeley), but the fact that Jeremy enrolled in a school and went about pursuing a dream (instead of having it handed to him) is really remarkable.

I think Jeremy’s typical as an AA who goes to college but really would prefer to do something else with his life rather than econ, law, or medicine.

Most AAs know other AAs similar to what I described – going to the best college I can, but secretly wanting to do something else with my life.

The difference with Jeremy is that he’s doing that “something else” now.

And so we all celebrate as if Jeremy was one of us.

Because he is…

… but with the faith, courage, and determination to pursue “something else”.

**being 6’4″ 200 lbs certainly helps too!