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NBA, We Reminisce / Feb 13, 2012 / 3:30 pm

We Reminisce: The Original Jeremy Lin

The Knicks’ Jeremy Lin has spurred incredible highlights, sustained enthusiasm from the world’s toughest fans and created a cottage industry of awful puns of his last name.

But don’t pretend he’s the first to burst on a hoops scene like this. The second-year guard’s jaw-dropping five-game run is, instead, the perfect time to remember another unheralded guard’s flash of fame back in 2003.

And here’s the thing: The best six weeks of Ronald “Flip” Murray‘s career might have been an even better story than his Harvard counterpart’s. You think the Crimson was hard up for hoops credibility when Lin left Cambridge? Murray went from junior college in Mississippi to D-II Shaw to the league. Though he eventually worked his way into the 41st pick of the 2002 draft for Milwaukee, he might as well have been part of the Bradley Center’s furniture his first season. He played 42 minutes as a Buck.

So when all he did was average 21 points per in his first 14 games of 2003-04 for Seattle, the product from Philly’s Strawberry Mansion High lit up the league. He didn’t have his first non-double-digit scoring game until Nov. 28 after putting up 24.6 in his first five games. He later dropped a season-high of 31 on Miami a week later. Context: Murray had 94 points in his first four games, on 51 percent shooting, making Lin’s 109 even more remarkable.

John Hollinger, then of SI.com, tried to place him in context then, but came up grasping.

Only one player has averaged 20 points a game after a season when he played fewer than 500 minutes: John Block of the 1967-68 San Diego Rockets, and he has a big fat asterisk because he did it with an expansion team. Hey, somebody had to score.

Then in Seattle, just as now in New York, everyone asked can this last?

Seattle Times columnist Steve Kelley wrote after that season’s first month:

Frankly, even (Seattle coach Nate) McMillan wasn’t sure what he had in Murray. He saw glimpses in practice, but he didn’t know what Murray would do under the bright lights of the big time.

“You don’t know,” he said. “It’s a gamble. It’s a guess. But I felt comfortable with him. I knew he would be OK out there. I knew he could score. He could shoot. But I didn’t know he would be so poised and under control and be able to put up the numbers he’s put up.”

He is a no-name no more. “I think he’s for real,” (Seattle assistant Dean) Demopoulos said. “It’s been going on too long. But Flip is so fun. He’s good and so sound and so strong. He’s multi-dimensional. He comes with a spirit that won’t be broken.”

McMillan has earned a reputation for not playing young players big minutes early, but an injury to Luke Ridnour and a big summer league camp practically forced the 24-year-old Murray into the lineup.

From October through November, those 14 games helped propel Murray to a Rookie-Sophomore Game appearance at All-Star Weekend. By the time he arrived at All-Star Weekend, however, his start that shot up like a rocket had run out of fuel months before. He faded as quickly as he shot to the front of NBA fans’ attention. After starting 13 of the first 14, he started just five games the rest of the season. By February, his minutes dropped to nearly half of the 36 per game he was averaging through November and his shooting dipped to below 37 percent until March hit.

Murray’s eight-team career that ended two seasons ago doesn’t inspire many memories. But as the world continues to watch Lin’s story, we’d be remiss not to reminisce about Murray’s incredible first 14 games.

Who had the crazier breakout: Murray or Lin?

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  • Shecky Shabazz

    This is my first ever post on here after being a long time reader. I must say you guys read my mind with this. I remember when Flip was putting in work that first 1/3 of the season. I was hyped up as a youngster (more than most because he was from my hometown of Philly). But then he fizzled off after teams figured out how to guard him. Lin is nothing more than Flip 2.0. He has the buzz because he plays for the Knicks and America is trying to find that Asian sensation ever since Yao retired. He is just like Tebow; an overachiever. But best of luck to him. He’s doing his thing nonetheless.

  • SoulChorea

    Flip was nice. That highlight mix was horrible. More misses than f*bombs, and there were a lot of f*bombs.

  • jdizzle

    @Shecky you’re not the only one. I remember saying to myself, “I hope Lin doesn’t end up as just another Flip Murray.” And speaking of the rookie sophomore game, remember the crossover Flip put on LeBron?

  • shuttles

    Yeah, as a former Sonics fan I was actually thinking of this same comparison as well. Flip did his thing for a month while Lin’s only been at it a week or so. What’s funny is they are completely different players though. Flip had elite quickness and athleticism – I remember watching him and he could basically get to the rim on anybody and no one stood a chance if he was making the pull up jumper because he was so quick getting it off. Only problem was that he was a mediocre shooter and his bball IQ was in the single digits.

    Also, it was the injury to RAY ALLEN that forced Murray into the lineup to start that season. God knows Ridnour wasn’t keeping anyone out of the lineup in those days.

  • Rafael De La Ghetto

    This article put things in a new perspective for me. Like a lot of people, I was most worried about how Lin and Melo would be able to play together. Now I’m starting to think that Melo coming back might allow Lin to divert attention away from him and prevent defenses from focusing on how to stop him. Melo’s return could actually help Lin stay legit for longer… or it could be a disaster.

  • http://www.dimemag.com Slick Ric

    I lie not to you, this is who I thought of after Lin’s first four games. I think he will end up being like flip as well, a nice role player. lin also reminds me of brandon jennings in the beginning of his rookie season, His play will suddenly fall.

  • stefan

    have a little faith haters.

  • http://www.livingcheapla.com hakasan

    good points,
    and especially in this compressed season, the minutes will eventually get to lin… like it’s getting to EVERYONE…

    but i think it’s also important to point out that… flip murray was starting in place for ray allen in his prime… lin’s starting in place for… baron davis/mike bibby who, while i wouldn’t say are washed up, are a bit far away from being the dominant players they once were…

    flip murray was also a score first guard who helped his teammates by making opponents defend… lin is much more of a distribution point guard who’s willing to share the rock…

    i don’t think anyone would be surprised if lin doesn’t maintain is current level of scoring… but i think his role as a passer on that team with two big time scoring options, should earn him some playing time… if he can manage 15pt/8ast per game, i think he’d be a mainstay in the league…

  • http://www.haywoodplanning.com D.H.

    The main problem I see with Lin is that he does not have the basketball pedigree required to keep getting the minutes. It is a sad but true statement about the NBA. Lin does not come from a big name school, wasn’t a high draft pick, he’s not black, and he can’t jump out of the gym. When he hits a rough patch, like all players do, he will not have these things to fall back on. People will just assume that it was all a fluke, and that it can’t be replicated. Why? Well look at his pedigree will be the response. I feel sorry for the kid, he can’t put up these numbers forever and the winning streak will come to and end, regardless of how or when it happens people will say, it was all a dream…

  • papaburr81

    @hakasan and @shuttles, sooooo true.

    love the under dogs. unfortunately flip was a one hit wonder, just hope that lin can keep it up (but most likely if he didn’t get 20pts and 8ast a game, lovers will turn into haters, lol!!!)

  • Kyle

    Flip Murray has nothing to do with Jeremy Lin. He was an undersized shooting guard who was playing for the injured Allen. Lin is bigger than Flip, seems to have a better vertical and can pass far better.

    But this is a flawed comparison for many reasons: Murray was scouted as a volume shooter who couldn’t use the pick and roll, wasn’t an efficient scorer, took too many deep 3’s and didn’t get to the basket that often. Lin has controlled a tip on a jumpball with John Wall and so far taken on Deron Williams, John Wall, Devon Harris, the Lakers, and Rubio. So far he’s passed every test.

    Lin has proven to have a high basketball IQ, possess the ability to play against the best players in the league, finish at the rim strong while able to absorb contact for possible 3 point plays, and play the pick and roll perfectly regardless of how the defense plays it.

    Here are the scoring and rebounding averages of guys he’s play with in his past 5 games…

    Steve Novak – 16 ppg, 5 rpg
    Tyson Chandler – 15 ppg, 9 rpg
    Jared Jeffries – 9 ppg, 7.4 rpg
    Landry Fields – 11 ppg, 5 rpg

  • boogie

    @D.H you’re making an assumption that Lin isn’t athletic. Which is just patently false, as the dude is stupidly quick off the dribble and can yam it. See his crossover dunk on J.Wall(one of the quickest guards in the league). What is a shame is that many other people are, just like you, gonna take away talents from him which he has to fit in with their perceptions of what he should be. Luckily though, Lin plays smart and that’s something that makes him very useful to any team. Another stroke of luck is that he happens to be in the ideal situation, where he has to play and will likely be allowed to play through rough patches due to his teams roster, coach and situation. Also, as someone mentioned before, when the starters come back, people will actually be less focused on him allowing him room to operate more freely. I think he will be much better than a flip murray, or at least a lot less mercurial.

  • DPGC

    @Kyle

    “Lin is bigger than Flip, seems to have a better vertical…”

    WTF ARE YOU SMOKIN DUDE

  • http://www.zwani.com/graphics/funny_pictures/images/88funny-pictures128.jpg JAY

    So, if Lin turns out to be like Murray then he’s got to lose a lot more than just his shot.
    His passing has to leave him.
    His vision has to go..
    He’s gotta become impatient.
    His driving ability has to stop.
    Oh, and don’t forget his high IQ. That’s gotta stop too.

    They aren’t the same. Guys can get hot with their jumpshot. I’ve never heard anyone getting hot with a string of intelligent games. Even if Lin’s shot loses accuracy, he can still be a decent league point guard. He makes good decisions. Those intelligent decisions have to stop all of a sudden for Lin to turn out like Murray.

  • the shaman

    The first player’s breakout I thought of: Ramon Sessions.

    When Milwaukee first started playing him he was getting like 15, 17, 20 assists a game and basically wielding terror on the other teams. Getting crazy stats.

  • the shaman

    Kinda weird I said that about Sessions, cuz I was just about to look up Sessions old stats from his hot start years ago (I remember it from playing fantasy basketball) and instead I immediately saw his stats from the last 3 games THIS season, which he started b/c Kyrie Irving went down with the concussion:

    19 pts, 8 ast
    12 pts, 16 ast
    24 pts, 13 ast

    Those are some hot numbers. However, playing in Cleveland this hardly gets a mention.

    ?Did you know?

    Sessions career high assist total was:

    24 vs. Chicago 04/14/08

  • Knicksfan84

    All I know is… Knicks better trade Lin for a proven commodity while his stock is still sky high.

  • Michorizo

    SuperSonics is such a cool Hoop name

  • douglalr

    I hate Flip Murray…his game was just like mine…killed any fantasy I had of being just needing to be a little taller so I could kill the league…smh…

    I think Lin will turn out to be a system point guard and a borderline all-star because of this system…as long as as he’s in a system like the one he’s in now he’s good. 6’3″ mean’s he’s a pretty big PG and you can’t teach vision like that…keep scorers around him and he should be a vet for years to come