Alumni Power Rankings: Where Does Lin Fit in?

Published by Peter G. Cornick on February 16, 2012 at 3:12AM

Should Jeremy Lin sit atop our Alumni Power Rankings?

Here at The Back Page, we like Jeremy Lin. We also like ranking things. They are probably our two greatest loves, so we began to think of how we could combine them into one giant love. And then we got it: Alumni Power Rankings.

We all know how great the past two weeks have been for Jeremy Lin, but what about other alumni? How have they been faring in this New Year? We decided to look at the top seven Alumni to see if anyone could top Lin so far in 2012.

No. 7: Matt Damon (formerly '92)

Matt Damon cemented his place as a Hollywood action juggernaut with the Jason Bourne series. After winning an Oscar for “Best Original Screenplay” for Good Will Hunting, I don’t think anyone would have expected to end up beating the snot out of people in his later films.

But Damon is no longer the star of the continuing Bourne Series, and he recently made a movie about buying a zoo. Poor form, Matt. That's called "setting swag to zero." No Hahvahd tours are going to keep stopping outside Matthews to point at your freshman room if you’re a zookeeper.

No. 6: Ryan Fitzpatrick ’05

A few months ago, “Fitzmagic” probably would’ve come in close to the top of this list. After leading a typically hapless Buffalo Bills team to a 4-2 record, including a win over the eventual Super Bowl runner-ups, the New England Patriots, the Bills rewarded the former Crimson standout with a six-year, $59 million contract extension.

But Fitzpatrick and his Bills stumbled halfway through the season, as the team lost eight of the last 10 games, and Buffalo failed to make the playoffs for the 12th straight season. However, win or lose, Fitzpatrick still has one of the more baller beards in all of professional sports, so he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

No. 5 Natalie Portman ’03

I promise, Natalie, I won’t hold The Attacks of the Clones against you, because if you couldn’t make Hayden Christiansen look like a half-way decent actor, who could? And after two box offices smashes in Black Swan (for which she won the Oscar for “Best Actress”) and No Strings Attached, she welcomed her first son, Aleph, last summer. Plus, considering she made out with Mila Kunis, she can die happy.

With so much professional and personal success, you might be wondering why is Portman so low? Because she won’t return my calls. Come on, Natalie! What’s a guy got to do? You had a kid with a ballet dancer? Sportswriters are definitely probably manlier than ballerinos. As I said in my emails: we could go to Café of India (your favorite restaurant in Cambridge) and then maybe pop next door for some Burdick’s hot chocolate? And I promise I won’t make fun of the name Aleph more than once.

No. 4: Matt Birk ’98

Matt Birk plays one of the most underrated positions in football, and although many current students haven’t heard of him, he is by far Harvard's most successful professional athlete playing today. A 13-year pro, Birk has played center for the Minnesota Vikings and the Baltimore Ravens, earning six Pro-Bowl appearances and the Ed Block Courage Award in 2006.

Most recently, after his Ravens were dumped out of the playoffs in the AFC Championship game against the Patriots, Birk went on to receive the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, meant to honor the player whose work both on and off the field inspire others to improve themselves and their community. Birk was recognized for his HIKE Foundation, an educational charity hoping to improve the opportunities for inner-city youth.

No. 3: Barack Obama (HLS ’91)

The Back Page doesn’t like to get political, but Obama is doing pretty well for himself. His approval rating is back at 50%, he is beating all Republican candidates at the polls, and if we’re being honest with ourselves, he probably has a better jumper than Jeremy Lin.

No. 2: Jeremy Lin ('10)

With all do respect, Mr. President, your approval ratings are at 50%, and Jeremy Lin is clocking in at about 99.7%. If Natalie Portman finally agreed to go to Café of India with me but insisted on covering the bill and bringing Mila Kunis, I would still be light years away from achieving what JLin has in the last fortnight.

NBA records? Check. Accolades? Check. Shelter? Check. Lin has gone from benchwarmer to flash-in-the-pan to sensation to legend in about 14 days, and the man has handled all of that pressure with class, inspiring a city, country, and world to never give up. And when “The Basketball Player Formerly Known as Ron Artest” is giving you style advice, you know you have made it.

No. 1: Mark Zuckerberg (formerly '06)

My heart says Lin, but my brain says Zuck. One of the world’s youngest billionaires just added a few more zeros to his bank account this past week, as Facebook is about to go public with an initial public offering somewhere in the $5-10 billion range. Sorry Jeremy, but with that kind of money, The Zuck could probably buy the Knicks and then suit up with you against the Hornets tomorrow night. And chances are you guys would probably still win by 12.