Now, "Linsanity" has faded, and his struggles with the Houston Rockets are partly why.
Lin will try to bounce back from one of his worst performances of the season in order to help the Rockets continue their dominance of the Knicks in his first meeting with his former team Friday night.
Lin was buried on New York's bench for the first 22 games last season before being called upon to run the point in an act of desperation. He responded by averaging 24.4 points during a seven-game winning streak, which included outscoring Kobe Bryant 38-34 in a win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 10.
That streak turned the Knicks into a playoff contender and transformed the unknown guard from Harvard into an icon with a catchy name that sold millions in merchandise.
Lin's storybook season, however, came to an end after 35 games due to a torn meniscus, and he watched New York get dumped out of the playoffs in five games by Miami in the opening round.
"When I think back, I think about the games," said Lin, who averaged 14.6 points and 6.2 assists last season. "The plane rides after the games. The things that we did as a team, whether it was a funny film session or whatever. I think about the memories we had with our team and our coach. How fun that was."
The fun stopped unexpectedly, though, as the Knicks declined to match the Rockets' three-year, $25 million offer to the restricted free agent. Houston had cut him during the 2011-12 preseason.
As a starter with the Rockets (5-7), Lin isn't coming close to matching those dizzying heights with the Knicks. He's scoring 10.0 points per game and dishing out 6.3 assists while shooting 33.3 percent from the floor, and 22.9 from beyond the arc.
Lin's struggles have been clear during the Rockets' 2-3 stretch, making 27.5 percent of his field goals while missing all nine attempts from 3-point range to average 7.4 points.
"It was just one of those things where I haven't had the rhythm I've wanted to have," Lin said. "That'll come over time."
Those problems continued Wednesday, when he had four points and three assists, while James Harden and Patrick Patterson combined for 48 points to snap Houston's three-game slide with a 93-89 win over Chicago.
"I'm happy because we had lost three in a row and needed a win," Lin said. "Me, in terms of how I'm playing, I'm a little disappointed in myself. It's just a matter of continuing to fight, continuing to get better."
While Lin tries to shake out of his funk, Harden continues to be a force, ranking fourth in the NBA with 24.5 points per game.
The guard had 24 points in a 104-92 win over New York (8-2) with Oklahoma City on Jan. 14.
The Rockets have won 13 of the last 14 meetings with the Knicks, including seven in a row at home after winning 97-84 on Jan. 28.
New York, though, is doing just fine without Lin, tying the Grizzlies for the NBA's best record. However, the Knicks are coming off a 114-111 loss at Dallas, where Carmelo Anthony missed a potential go-ahead jumper in the final seconds.
"With the ball in (Anthony's) hands, we'll live and die with that every time," said guard Raymond Felton, who had 18 points and 11 assists.
Anthony is right behind Harden at 24.1 points per game, and he's averaging 34.3 over his last six meetings with Houston. However, he missed last season's matchup with ankle, thumb and wrist injuries.