Never since the phrase "LeBron James" have there been two words that have inspired feelings of such polarizing disdain and admiration. Words that create thoughts of incredible feats and an overwhelming desire for another athlete's failure.
A phrase that leads to acts and thoughts of an irrational and extreme nature. Those two words, of course, are "Jeremy Lin."
During the 2011-12 NBA regular season, Linsanity took the league by storm and created a frenzy that will never be forgotten. For 26 games, Lin took on the NBA's elite and showed them that it is never safe to sleep on your opponent.
He posted averages of 18.5 points, 7.7 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game during that span. In turn, he captivated the world and became New York City's favorite child.
Beyond New York, Lin became a global superstar. Between his lifting the New York Knicks back into postseason contention to establishing an international fanbase, he became one of the most recognizable names and faces in the world.
Lin also became the target of many a fan's hatred for his meteoric, unpredictable and improbable rise to stardom.
From a Harvard graduate that was stuck living on his brother's couch to an NBA superstar, Lin did the unthinkable. Unfortunately, the living dream was placed on hold when the point guard tore his meniscus in April of 2012 (via ESPN.com).
This led to months of recovery and an offseason that saw the end to a brief era. It also led to the unfortunate reality that Jeremy Lin is not yet ready to be an NBA star.
Still Taken for Granted
Despite his unparalleled marketability and high level of production, the New York Knicks opted to allow their star point guard to sign with the Houston Rockets (via ESPN.com). This was especially surprising due to the fact that Lin was a restricted free agent.
That status gave the Knicks the legal right to match any contract offer he received. A right that they did not exercise.
With a backloaded contract of $25.1 million, the Knicks were left with a financial obligation that they were not willing to commit to. Lin was in store to receive roughly $14.9 million in 2014, which would have conflicted with the monster deals that Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler already have.
In turn, the Knicks pulled out of the Linsanity sweepstakes to avoid luxury tax penalties. Lin, meanwhile, moved to one of the few cities in America in which the Asian NBA fanbase is as large as that of New York City.
Lin will now play ball in the same city that Yao Ming once graced: Houston, Texas.
Heavy Burden on Unstable Knees
Now with the Rockets, Lin is expected to replicate his star-caliber play of 2012. With a lack of established talent around him, Lin will have the monumental task of leading an unproven team to a postseason appearance.
With a meniscus injury hanging over his head, however, it appears as if Linsanity will be placed on yet another temporary hold.
The Rockets are not a team that puts forth All-Stars and sharpshooters like the New York Knicks. Instead, they're a team that is built off of youth and truly only has one player on the roster that has proven themselves capable of a high level of play.
The mercurial and unpredictable Kevin Martin.
The remainder of the roster is made up of rookies, second-year players, role players turned starters and those returning from a severe injury. For that reason, it is virtually impossible to predict anything less than a steep learning curve.
Four rookies are expected to see major minutes in the rotation. Until the chemistry has been established and those four have adjusted to the speed of the NBA game, expect Linsanity to be placed on hold.
Unless Lin has discovered how he can and cannot perform on his surgically-repaired knee, he will not perform up to his own expectations. With just six months separating him from a severe knee injury, it is difficult to say he is aware of such just yet.
With a combination of the fear of a potential injury and the grueling process of one's physical rediscovery, the postponement of stardom is certain. Upon finding the level of physical and mental certainty in his own abilities, however, expect Linsanity to make it's grand return.
This time around, it will be his team to lead. It will also be the time for Jeremy Lin to quiet the doubters and establish himself as a legitimate star.