Jeremy Lin Strikes Back Against New York Media in Sports Illustrated Story

Ethan Sherwood Strauss@SherwoodStraussNBA Lead WriterJuly 18, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 11:  NBA New York Knicks player Jeremy Lin arrives at the 2012 ESPY Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on July 11, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Some MSG-connected elements are waging a PR war against one Jeremy Lin.

Stephen A. Smith is publicly obsessing over how Lin didn't play hurt, and how, according to Smith, "Jeremy Lin has been all about the money since the day he burst onto Broadway." Similar accusations are flying from all directions. It's gotten so prevalent that the normally-reserved Lin responded in Sports Illustrated

In Pablo S. Torre's SI piece, Jeremy is wistful over missing out on a Knicks career. He says:

Honestly, I preferred New York. But my main goal in free agency was to go to a team that had plans for me and wanted me. I wanted to have fun playing basketball. ... Now I'm definitely relieved.

The article goes onto show a disinterested Knicks management structure. They wanted Lin back, but they weren't exactly rolling out the red carpet. From the piece:

The Knicks would not make a formal offer to Lin -- not then, or, ultimately, ever -- instead opting to steer him toward the open market so he could assess his own price. Serious conversations with three teams besides the Knicks began.

This right here is why Lin cannot be blamed for leaving, despite whatever Knicks fans might be saying on his Facebook page. New York had an opportunity to sign the kid and it just did not care enough to try. It was creating the context for his departure, long before Jeremy was wooed by Daryl Morey. 

The history of what happened, as we now understand it, is that the Knicks practically forced Lin out. The man signed with Houston because New York left him only one contract to consider. After that point, the ball was in James Dolan's proverbial court. 

Had the Knicks really wanted to keep this guy, they could have at least given him an option. It's a bit ridiculous to accuse Lin of leaving for more money when New York never formally ponied up a cent. What was he to do? Wait forever? Play for free? 

Perhaps Lin's frankest, most incisive quote is the following: "If I really wanted to, I could have triple-digit endorsements."

But he doesn't, because he's too busy working on his game. This is in keeping with everything I've ever heard about Lin. The guy has a monomaniacal focus, and he absolutely loathes distractions of any sort. The idea that he's only in this for a paycheck seems overly cynical at best, and slanderous at worst. 

Oh, and as for the charge that he sat out the playoffs in order to protect his brand and money-making ability? Lin has the ether for that claim, too: 

People think it was easy for me to sit there and watch us lose, like I had nothing to do with the season. I was dying to play. I didn’t miss a game due to injury in seven years until this past season, and people are acting like I wouldn’t want to play in the playoffs? Of the NBA? In my first season?

It seems as though the Knicks wanted no part of Jeremy Lin, for reasons that remain murky. On the way out, he's getting slammed, perhaps by a PR machine desperate to explain the unexplainable. The Knicks might be frivolous and money-obsessed, but it's wrong to project those qualities on the guy they just let walk.