Knicks star’s injury leaves this story Lincomplete

Jeremy Lin needed a chance, the Knicks needed a spark, and

together they were a perfect match in February.

Lin saved his career and salvaged New York’s season, and for

three weeks the Knicks and their little-known point guard made

basketball matter again at Madison Square Garden, a place known as

the Mecca but in reality years removed from being the center of

anyone’s NBA universe.

New York fans loved him, but Lin’s popularity reached far beyond

them. An American-born Asian and Ivy League graduate, he was

nothing like the opponents he was suddenly outplaying on a nightly

basis.

It was an amazing, inspiring story, but ultimately

Lincomplete.

Great stories are authored every NBA winter, though rarely with

the global impact of Lin’s.

Lasting legacies, however, are only made in the spring.

Lin won’t be able to help the Knicks reach the playoffs. He

probably has lost the chance to match up against Derrick Rose or

some other point guard with the season on the line.

He is headed for surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left

knee, with an expected six-week recovery time meaning the Knicks

will only still be playing if someone takes hold of the offense the

way he did two months ago.

So it’s too soon for Lin to describe what he went through this

season, knowing the journey ended long before the finish.

”This season’s been, when you talk about ups and downs, this

has been a lot of downs and a lot of ups,” Lin said. ”And at the

end of the day I’m still thankful to be here, thankful to be part

of the Knicks, to see this team, how we’ve grown and how we’re

going to make a push for the playoffs and hopefully go deep in the

playoffs. I think as a team we’re doing OK and we’re going to be

just fine, but it’s obviously been a very emotional year.”

For Lin, there certainly should be relief. He was perhaps days

away from being cut for a third time this season before former

coach Mike D’Antoni turned to him with the season going nowhere in

February. The Knicks could have cut him the following week without

having to guarantee his contract of the remainder of the season,

and Lin refused to even get his own place to live with that black

cloud hanging over him.

Undrafted out of Harvard, he left no question of his NBA

credentials in the weeks that followed. Someone will give him a job

next season, in New York or elsewhere.

But Lin has never been caught up in himself, trying desperately

during the height of Linsanity to deflect the attention away from

himself and onto his team. So when asked how knee surgery could

affect his uncertain future, Lin quickly turned the discussion back

to the present.

”I’m more concerned about the season,” Lin said.

Already without the injured Amare Stoudemire, another major

injury will be difficult to overcome as the Knicks try to hold onto

the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Baron

Davis, Mike Bibby and Toney Douglas are the remaining point guards,

but if the latter two could do the job, the Knicks never would have

needed to try Lin in the first place.

That leaves Davis, who is still playing his way back into shape

after a herniated disk kept him sidelined until February. The

former All-Star turns 33 this month and has been injury prone, so

the Knicks in some ways may need Lin more than ever.

”Jeremy’s a lot more livelier than Baron in terms of movement.

Baron’s been around, Baron is a crafty veteran. But again, he’s

playing a little banged-up right now, so he’s not the Baron of

old,” interim coach Mike Woodson said. ”So Jeremy brings a lot to

the table. We’re going to miss what he brings.”

Assuming he can’t make it back this season, the question is

where Linsanity will be seen again.

Lin will be a restricted free agent this summer, allowing the

Knicks to match any offer made to him. D’Antoni loved him and

Woodson has gained respect for him – though he seemed to question

Lin’s toughness by saying Lin chose to have surgery when he’s known

players who played through the injury – but it’s unknown who will

be making the decisions. Woodson may not be back and general

manager Glen Grunwald also wears an interim tag, so it’s possible

the Knicks could have an entirely new staff that has someone else

in mind for its point guard.

Lin knows where he wants to be.

”I think New York, the way that the city, that the fans,

writers, the media, everybody, I think it’s been an unbelievable

journey,” he said. ”I would love to keep this team together as

long as we can. Everybody, top to bottom.”

The deeply religious Lin called his injury a ”bump in the

road,” saying he would trust in God’s plan for him. That faith got

Lin through his turbulent first month of this season, when his

hometown Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets waived him

before the season started.

And it kept him upbeat and confident after D’Antoni’s

resignation last month, which was greeted by speculation that Lin

wouldn’t be the same player under Woodson, who preferred veterans

who don’t turn the ball over as often as Lin.

Lin’s stats indeed went down but the wins kept coming, which is

ultimately how point guards should be judged.

Whenever he returns, some doubters will be waiting, wondering if

he’s lost a step after having surgery for the first time in his

life, or if someone else’s offense will be too much of an

adjustment.

After what Lin accomplished in just two months, nobody should

write him off.

That would be Linsane.

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