More than four years, and still, no one can fathom the magic that was known as “Linsanity.” It may have only lasted a brief moment in time, but it will forever stay a chapter in New York Knicks history. Now Jeremy Lin has returned to the city where it all began, and this time in a very different situation, but he will once again have to shine through.
On February 4, 2012, the Knicks season was already turning in a sour direction. After a fast start into the shortened NBA year, the Knicks dropped 11 out of their last 13 games and were suffering from an injured Carmelo Anthony. Mike D’Antoni then made the best decision during his time with the Knicks. He played a guy who was recently cut, a guy who was fighting for a contract, and what happens next? Something amazing.
Jeremy Lin burst onto the scene faster than probably any player in the history of sports. He did things that you can only dream about: Scoring 38 points in a win against the great Kobe Bryant. Hitting a game-winning buzzer beater in Toronto. Lin became the first person in NBA history to score 20 points and seven assists in his first five starts, all while leading the Knicks to seven straight wins.
Not only did Lin win games, he created a frenzy. His Asian-American descent, degree from Harvard, and utter obscurity prior to his performance, had the people in absolute disbelief and wanting more. He packed Madison Square Garden, sold everything he could put his name on and was an instant media sensation.
"The excitement he caused in the Garden, man, I hadn't seen that in a long time.” —Hall of Famer Magic Johnson
“My God. He's a tremendous player.” —Hall of Famer Jerry West
"His story transcends sports itself.” —President Barack Obama
“He’s Rudy! People love the underdog!” —Former teammate Carmelo Anthony
Like most things, Lin’s magical run came to an end. Since then, he has been on three different teams, mainly as a contributor off the bench. Now he has once again been given the opportunity as a starting point guard, with a familiar face calling the shots.
Nets Head Coach Kenny Atkinson was on the coaching staff during Lin’s time as a Knick. The two spent a lot of time together and developed a bond, as both were trying to find their place in the NBA. Now here they are, four years later, right across the bridge, and still finding their place. Atkinson as a rookie head coach, and Lin with the opportunity to be the go-to guy for an NBA team.
Lin pairs up with All-Star Brook Lopez on arguably the most talentless roster in the NBA. It doesn’t all look dim, new President and GM Sean Marks could be the one to recover this sunken ship, but it doesn’t look to be anytime soon. This Nets organization needs to capitalize on Jeremy Lin. They have very quickly slid into the darkest place an NBA team can be. No picks, no players, and no buzz. Lin could be the short-term cure, while Marks and company search for the long-term solution.
If preseason is any indication, Lin will be right at home with Atkinson. He led his team in all statistical categories outside of blocks and rebounds, averaging 17 points and five assists. Teams have done well to adjust to Lin's unique playing style over the years, but he has shown improvement in areas that proved to be weaknesses. His defense has improved, he can drive with his opposite hand, and he is taking better care of the ball.
Lin has a real outside chance to be an NBA All-Star. It is definitely a long shot, but Lin has proven to own the role of the long shot in the past.
It is safe to say "Linsanity" is back. Now he is a more complete, experienced player who will try to bring pride back to this organization. If he can recapture even half of the magic as the first go around in New York, it could provide at least something to talk about for Nets fans this season.