It's Carmelo Anthony's world again.
After an incredible run, Jeremy Lin's spectacular season is over. The team announced that Lin will undergo surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee and will miss the rest of the regular season and likely the playoffs as well.
Expected to be out for six weeks, the New York Knicks will have to move forward without Lin. They also have to continue their playoff push without Amar'e Stoudemire, who is expected to be out a few more weeks with a back injury.
During the height of Linsanity, everyone wondered how things would work when Anthony returned to the lineup after being out with a groin injury. While there were a few bumps in the road immediately after he reentered the lineup, the team cut ties with Mike D'Antoni, moved Mike Woodson into the coaching chair and watched as things levelled out again.
Anthony and Lin learned how to play with one another, Lin came back down to Earth after that wild stretch that had him dominating the news cycles and the Knicks went back to being that unpredictable team in New York.
Without Lin and Stoudemire, this is Anthony's team to lead wherever it will go. While Baron Davis will become the Knicks starting point guard, all eyes will be on Anthony as he tries to keep his team in the playoff race.
Currently two-and-a-half games up on Milwaukee for the final spot in the Eastern Conference, the Knicks close out the season against strong competition. This is a tough pill to swallow for Knicks fans after allowing themselves to get swept up in the hysteria that accompanied Lin's improbable ascension.
While Lin struggled to hold onto the ball, averaging 3.6 turnovers per game, he could get to the hoop and he could score. He helped the Knicks' offense look as smooth as we've seen it, and they will miss his steadying hand.
It will be interesting to watch the Knicks and see how things go with Davis manning the point. While he's a capable veteran, Davis has appeared in just 19 games this season after struggling with injuries himself. With Davis stepping into the starter's spot, this truly is Anthony's time to shine.
However many shots Anthony wants, he's going to get. There will be no more wondering who the play will be drawn up for or who is going to take the final shot. Because he's down two starters, regardless of how things go for the Knicks to close out the season, Anthony is in a good spot.
If things fall apart and he's unable to play the hero, the team being shorthanded will keep him exempt from blame. If Anthony is able to get the Knicks into the postseason by going into Kobe Bryant-jacking-mode, hero ball lives.
While this story now shifts to Anthony, it really is a shame that Lin's season had to end prematurely. After such a brilliant stretch in February, it feels a little unfair that this has to happen. If we're being honest though, the guy has already won the life lottery for this year. He knows it, too. In a quote from the AP story on Lin's surgery, he says,
“If this was done very early in the year, obviously…I don’t know where my career would be. I could be, would be definitely without a job and probably fighting for a summer league spot,” Lin said. “But having said that, this happening now hurts just as much, because all the players, we really put our heart and souls into the team and into season, and to not be there when it really matters most is hard.”
That's a nice way of looking at it. Had he tended to his knee earlier in the year, he'd likely still be crashing on his brother's couch. The lesson here: ignore knee pain until it requires you to get surgery. Okay, not really. Only if you're Jeremy Lin and have the whole universe conspiring to make your dreams come true.
While it sucks for Lin to have to go under the knife four weeks before the season ends, imagine if we hadn't have been gifted with his rise. It was fun. It'll be fun again. He just needs some time. Whether the Knicks finish the season on a high note or crash and burn, they won because Lin brought them back into relevancy, and the world is a better place when the Knicks matter.