The term "franchise player" gets thrown around too casually these days by the media and fans, most notably for the Rockets with Steve Francis who was called "Stevie Franchise" by Rockets announcer Bill Worrell. Francis wasn't a franchise player and neither are most of the players who get labeled with that term. To me, a franchise player is a player capable of making his teammates better and carrying an average group of guys deep into the playoffs when they probably wouldn't make the playoffs without him. LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, and Dwight Howard are franchise players. Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Tim Duncan were franchise players. A franchise player is a player capable of putting the franchise on his back, someone who's name you instantly think of when the team is mentioned, not a decent role player who might play well in the right system. Putting up numbers for one month and then dropping off drastically the next doesn't qualify Lin as a franchise player.
To Lin's credit, he dismissed the multiple questions he received from the media on Tuesday about whether or not he was a franchise player.
"I don’t know if I’m the face of the franchise just yet," Lin said, while surrounded by about 40 media members. "We’re a young team, and we’re all going to buy in.
"The thing about us is it’s not going to be any one person that is going to carry us where we want to go. It’s going to be everybody."
The over-coverage during "Linsanity" that most of us have grown tired of is not the fault of Lin himself. I believe his performance was overblown and I'm not convinced he'll be a great player or worth his contract going forward, but again, neither of those things are the fault of Lin but the media who have blown up his story and other stories that started off nice but ended as an annoying daily barrage like Tim Tebow. Jeremy Lin seems like a humble guy who wants to do things the right way and I hope he succeeds.
"We’re not coming into it expecting to lose or expecting to do bad. I think it’s cool that we’re under the radar. That’s kind of been in some ways a story of my life, going under the radar. I think I’m comfortable there, and I think this team is comfortable where we are."
He may succeed, he may fail, and ideally he'd be judged only for what he does on the court. His new reality won't let that happen. He's not a long shot trying just to make a roster during training camp like last year. Ready or not he's expected and being paid to be the face of this team and carry this average roster into the playoff first the first time since the 2008-2009 season.