Jeremy Lin’s return to Madison Square Garden will be met with a standing ovation thanks to all those memorable moments Linsanity bestowed on a long-suffering Knicks fanbase.
But a refresher is needed: Linsanity and its controversial aftermath have been easy to forget this season. Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and the best record in the East have afflicted fans with some slight amnesia.
It turns out not matching the Houston Rockets’ offer was the proper decision. The Knicks have improved, and Lin has come down to Earth.
First, though, Lin quietly made his New York debut two months prior, in the Knicks’ second game of the season against the team that gave him his first shot—the Golden State Warriors. He played 1:27 and had an unmemorable stat line of zeroes.
The same held true over Lin’s next eight games. Not much to speak of—few minutes, single-digit scoring and a handful of assists, all off the bench.
Jeremy Lin scored 25 points, had seven assists and pulled down five rebounds prompting the Garden crowd to fire up a “Je-re-my” chant. In a month, they’d be on their feet, calling him “MVP.”
Two nights after Lin and the Knicks dispatched the Nets, the Utah Jazz came to town. Lin made his first start as a Knick. He outdid himself, pouring in 28 points and dishing eight dimes.
The Knicks hit the road and whipped the Wizards in Washington. Lin kept getting better, and he notched his first double-double.
But Lin’s greatest game was yet to come, back home.
The Los Angeles Lakers still didn’t know who Jeremy Lin was. Lin had just three big games in the books.
But by halftime against L.A., Kobe Bryant and the gang would become quickly familiar with the upstart. Lin already had 20 points in the first 24 minutes, and he was on his way to a career-high 38.
ESPN signaled Lin’s official arrival:
“This was the night that proved he's no one-week wonder, that he's got a real NBA career ahead of him.” (And a big contract).
Lin and the Knicks would go on to win two on the road against the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Toronto Raptors. Against the Raptors, Lin hit a game-winning three-pointer with half a second left.
The Knicks had now won six in a row since Lin’s emergence, and the Garden crowd welcomed their newly-beloved point guard home to face the Sacramento Kings.
Lin went for his third double-double of the year against the Kings, and the Knicks won their seventh in a row, their longest streak of the season.
Around this time, Spike Lee traded in his Landry Fields' No. 2 for Lin’s high school jersey (Palo Alto).
Lin wasn’t done. In the 11 games since that fateful night against the Nets, he scored double figures in all of them and walked away with four double-doubles. His best game in that stretch was a 28-point, 14-assist win at home against the reigning champion Dallas Mavericks.
The Knicks had gone from 4-5 to 13-7, from lottery team to playoff contender.
He wasn’t done. In Lin’s last 15 games, the Knicks went 5-1 at home, and Lin scored in double figures 12 more times all together.
Mike Woodson took the helm during that time, coaching his first Knicks game at home against the Portland Trail Blazers. Lin only scored six points in that 121-79 smackdown and it was the beginning of a slowdown for the dynamic point guard.
Woodson was never that high on Lin. Here's what the New York Post had to say after Woodson's first win:
Jeremy Lin may be a global phenomenon, but he is no longer a Knicks phenomenon. Linsanity was the flavor of February, but he appears not to be new interim coach Mike Woodson’s favorite dish. Woodson, calling Lin “in a learning stage,’’ said yesterday he is turning the focus of his new deliberate offense to his bread and butter: Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire, the Knicks’ two stars who combine to make $37 million this season.
Six games later and as quickly as it began, Linsanity was over.
Not all memorable moments were good. Lin’s season came to an abrupt end right on his home court—he injured his knee against the Detroit Pistons. It was the last time fans would see him on the floor in a Knicks uniform. Lin would go under the knife and miss the playoffs.
But Linsanity will never die; it will always be remembered, and quite fondly at that.
Welcome back to the Garden, Jeremy—now lose.