There are still 69 days till the Houston Rockets' season opener, but you wouldn't know that from the way the Lin Only Haters are already freaking out.
Ever since the new NBA schedule came out, the disrespect and vitriol aimed Lin's way by supposed Rockets fans has only intensified. It seems the NBA's sense of humor — and drama — in sending the Rockets to Los Angeles on opening night to play against the player they wrongly blamed for almost everything is already fraying some nerves.
Rockets commenters have taken to calling Lin "garbage" and ClutchFans would likely completely explode in glee if Daryl Morey's weakened Rockets actually do beat manage to beat Lin and the Lakers on Oct. 28. Insecure much?
This much energy being spent by Rockets fans in mid August on an October game speaks to the nervousness about Morey's roster — and the outright fear over what Jeremy Lin is liable to become in Los Angeles.
Now that he's no longer a Rocket, Lin doesn't have to turn his cheek to McHale, Morey or Harden. He's free to hit back.
Almost anticipating their horror, the Lin Only Haters have taken to alternating between speculating that Kobe Bryant will never pass Lin the basketball and rationalizing that Lin's inevitable post-Rockets breakout won't really mean much because his stats are bound to increase playing for a "bad" team. It's already been comical to witness. And a little sad.
The Rockets clearly had the pieces together for a Western Conference contender. But they didn't have the coaching — or the vision — to see it.
Lin's loss is already apparent in this new schedule — and the Rockets' diminished place in it. The team is touting that it has 25 national TV games, ignoring that eight of those are on NBA TV, which is nothing close to the equivalent of ABC, ESPN or TNT. Sheer numbers don't tell the NBA's real TV story though. The marquee windows do.
There is nothing bigger in the NBA regular season than Christmas. With Lin on the Rockets, Leslie Alexander's franchise found itself playing on Christmas night the last two years. But with Lin gone, the Rockets are suddenly not playing on Christmas this season.
If you think that's mere coincidence, you're more out-of-touch than Daniel Snyder's argument that Native Americans aren't really offended by the Redskins name.
Jeremy Lin played no small role in making the Rockets one of the most popular NBA teams in the world. This argument from Rockets backers that Yao Ming actually deserves almost all the credit for that just doesn't hold up under examination.
No Lin, no Christmas game for you.
Now Lin's playing for a franchise that always plays on Christmas, one with an Alpha Dog player who is long past having to prove himself in Kobe Bryant. James Harden's still desperately trying to push himself into the LeBron, Kobe, Kevin Durant conversation. Harden's immature, lashing-out remarks on Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons — calling everyone but him and Dwight Howard just "role players" — show just how much pressure the Rockets young star is feeling.
And how poorly he's handling it.
Lin doesn't have to worry about any such insecurity with Kobe. Bryant won't be threatened by another guard succeeding at this point in his career.
Jeremy Lin All-Star?
It's no stretch to imagine Lin succeeding to the point where he thrusts himself onto the fringe of legitimate all-star reserve consideration. Even in a Western Conference overflowing with top point guards like Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard, Steph Curry and Tony Parker. For all the often ridiculous knocks Lin takes, this is a guy who's put up a triple double off the bench. And taken over a playoff game with a lesson in team ball.
Lin Only Haters have never been much for turning the other cheek. But they sure know how to bite their nails.
There's no doubt the talent and potential is there. Jeremy Lin has much more to give than Kevin McHale ever allowed him to in Houston. Lin also now suddenly finds himself with the priceless opportunity to learn from two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash, who's more of a 40-year-old sage basketball Yoda than a player at this point. Just ask former Rockets point guard Goran Dragic — who doesn't have Lin's talent — how invaluable such an apprenticeship can be.
When the Rockets blatantly disrespected Lin early in free agency by putting up images of Carmelo Anthony in Lin's No. 7 jersey — in one of those over-the-top Daryl Morey courtships that was doomed from the start — Lin famously tweeted a bible quote about turning the other cheek.
Well, now that he's no longer a Rocket, Jeremy Lin doesn't have to turn his cheek to McHale, Morey or Harden. He's free to hit back.
The Lin Only Haters are already rather nervously obsessing over that. In the middle of August. How unsettled are these guys? A few Rockets fans came up to me several hours before the Houston Texans' first home preseason game on Saturday night. Amazingly, they didn't want to wax poetic over that "great" Trevor Ariza signing. Instead they tried to crow over how poorly they're sure Lin is going to do in LA. Only they seemed more and more uncertain of that with every word.
The dream already seems to be turning into a nightmare for the LOH brigade. No more Jeremy Lin to blame for everything that goes wrong with these mismatched Rockets. No way to hold him back anymore.
The Rockets face the Lakers twice in their first 12 games of the season (with Lin's return to Toyota Center coming Nov. 19). Both those Lin v. Rockets showdowns happen to be two of Houston's real national TV games (TNT and ESPN, no NBA TV in sight). That must just be a coincidence.
USA Basketball is gearing up for the World Cup. James Harden's playing for Coach K and getting to the free-throw line. Heck, Johnny Manziel is giving an opposing sideline the middle finger, hijacking American sports as only Johnny Football can.
And still, there's a segment of supposed Rockets fans that cannot stop posting about Jeremy Lin on message boards — and talking about him at football games.
Why do they seem so nervous so early? Lin Only Haters have never been much for turning the other cheek. But they sure know how to bite their nails.