That scene with Moe Greene, Mike, and Fredo kept popping into my head as the Jeremy Lin signing drama played itself out. Let me lay it out for you. Mike Corleone has come to Vegas to buy out Moe Greene’s interest in the Casino he owns. Moe vociferously disagrees with Mike’s idea. Fredo decides to get in the middle, explaining to Mike that he can’t talk to Moe Greene that way in his place. Suffice it to say that the meeting goes poorly, and Moe Greene storms out of the room. Fredo starts to tell his brother what he’s done wrong. Michael cuts Fredo off, telling him “Don’t ever take sides with anyone against the family again. Ever.” The idea is that Fredo forgets where his bread is buttered. His loyalty should be with the Family, and Moe has disrespected the family.
The owner of the Knicks, James Dolan, sees himself as Mike. The Don of the powerful Corleone family. He tells Moe Greene and Fredo, who is Jeremy Lin, his agent, and the Rockets front office that this is the offer that is on the table. Lin’s people tell the Rockets that no, this is the offer you should make, because the Knicks will not be able to match. In the end, Dolan and the Knicks decide not to match, and the scuttlebutt is that Dolan has said that he was offended by Lin’s disloyalty, essentially telling Lin “Don’t ever take sides with anyone against the family again. Ever.”
That’s how Dolan sees it.
I see it this way. Dolan is Moe Greene. He sees the world as revolving around him and his business. The great New York Knicks. Jeremy Lin, in the person of Michael Corleone, has made him an offer for his business. Dolan had time to take the offer and lock down Jeremy Lin. Dolan was able, with the early Bird rights awarded to the Knicks, to match any offer made to Lin. The Corleone family, in the movies, always made fair initial offers. You might not want to sell your business to the Family, but they’d make it worth your while. I suppose, then, that the question becomes: Is Jeremy Lin worth it? For 25 games, he was the most electrifying player in recent Knick history. (I say “recent” because Poppa Rez raised no fools, and I got to watch Bernie King in his pre knee incarnation.) However, he got injured in a shortened season where a lot of folk were also injured, but still. In his first season, he also got injured. Can he stay healthy? Belaying all that…can he continue to produce the way he did? These are all valid questions that will be explored next season. But, we’re talking about potential right now. Dolan and his front office must have sat down and asked, “Can we afford to pay for potential?” More than likely they said, “No, he’ll take what we gave him because we gave him a shot.” Because loyalty, right?
Except no. Not loyalty. Well…different loyalty.
Daryl Morey, the GM of the Rockets, has said on twitter that he never should have let Lin go. That anyone who told you they knew how good, they would be lying to you. Morey had Lin…and three other point guards, including Jonny Flynn and Kyle Lowry, better regarded prospects at the time. Now, it’s a different story. At the time Morey didn’t know what he had. Now, when Lin hit the open market, Morey handled his business. Morey was Michael in the moment. He knows what’s there now, and he knows why he needs it. So, he wrote up an offer sheet that he knew the Knicks couldn’t match, and Dolan’s left to shout imprecations at the perfidy of Jeremy Lin. That’s the curious question that we haven’t answered. Where does Jeremy Lin lie in this narrative we’ve constructed? Is he Fredo, the weak willed kid who will never live up to his potential, and never should have left the family to go to Houston? Or, is he Rocco Lampone, a kid who came up as a low level soldier to run his own regime for the Corleone family out in the desert, dropping bombs from 3 and dishing the ball to Kevin Martin and a lot of dudes I frankly don’t know yet? Only time will tell. By the end of next season, we’ll find out if we wanted Lin back in New York, or if he’s buried in the desert with a bullet in the back of his neck.