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
It was an amazing, inspiring story, but ultimately
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
After what Lin accomplished in just two months, nobody should
write him off.
That would be Linsane.
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