Jeremy Lin meets the Houston media, or, the biggest press conference I’ve ever seen

A quick story to start off: the presser was scheduled to kick off at 4PM today so, knowing that it would be the largest gathering since the 2004 Republican National Convention, I left work at 3:15.  (I work downtown and am five minutes from the Toyota Center.)  As I’m turning the corner at Louisiana, two officers on horseback seem to have piqued interest in my presence amidst traffic.  I make the turn left, very slowly, and continue onward, thinking nothing of it, assuming it’s my imagination.  I glance rearview and both creatures are behind me.  I focus on the road.  As I pull up to the light, I’m immediately surrounded by the hideous beasts.  Conversation ensues; I’m told my registration has expired.  While awaiting the final decree, it hits me that I’ve been rung up by a cop riding a horse.  This sort of stuff hasn’t happened since the 1800′s.  No one I know anywhere, ever has had this happen.  How completely humiliating.  For this I’m late.

I pull in to Toyota Center to a packed house.  Usually we have press conferences in the press room but today, it was out on the practice floor.  The vast majority of media there I had never seen in my life and probably never will again.  I grab a seat in the second row and things get underway.

To a reader’s suggestion, I asked Jeremy and Daryl which school between Harvard and MIT was superior.  It was one of those jokes which sounds much funnier when played in one’s head.  Les Alexander chimed in that it was actually Northwestern, his alma mater which held supreme.

At one point Lin mentioned his advanced stats which naturally piqued my attention.  I followed up asking him what he thought of the Rockets’ analytics program and whether they used numbers in their presentation.  He called the organization innovative and said that they had in fact made references to other players’ stats in their pitch.  (I’m guessing perhaps they referenced the usage Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic enjoyed under McHale.)

This is a topic which I’m actually going to follow up on with Jeremy once I get a chance to catch him one-on-one.  A Harvard economics grad undoubtedly will make use of the data handed down to him so I’m curious to what extent this avenue will be exhausted.  The added intrigue here is that he’s the point guard.  Shane Battier was famously given scouting reports of player efficiency spots on the floor before each game.  Will Lin, as the team’s general, be given percentage values for actual team plays rather than just numbers on himself?  ”If this is the situation, this play is our highest probability set.”

Lin has a witty, dry sense of humor.  My favorite part of the 23-minute presser came when someone asked him, as a Harvard Economics grad, if he could explain the impact of himself as a “one man economic stimulus package.”  Lin responded: “I just have a degree; I don’t have any work experience.”

An unrelated note: this was the first time in quite a while I can remember Rockets general manager Daryl Morey wearing a suit.  He typically sports a black turtle neck under a sports coat at events such as these though I’m sure CNN’s presence in the building played some role in this wardrobe decision.

It was really surreal seeing Lin at the podium.  I still remember the moment I last saw him on that very same court.  It was training camp last season and Lin was fighting to make the team.  After practice ended, I approached him as he was walking off, hoping to ask something related to his Asian heritage.  (Note: the protocol after practice is that players just leave the court and if anyone has questions, they step aside.)  Not expecting anyone to have any interest, Lin walked right past me, right into the training room.

Now, here he was in a suit, pauper turned King, the new face of the franchise, the center of national attention.  As he took questions on stage, he still had the same boyish grin he had had while a D-Leaguer struggling to make an NBA roster.  I guess it’s true that that’s how it goes: just like that, overnight, your fate can turn, unexpectedly.  Hopefully, the Rockets’ fate too has turned.

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