Over that past two years, Jeremy Lin has been a hero, a goat, a savior, an icon, a punching bag and also, in the interest of completeness, a point guard. That's a lot of hats for a guy who has only worn two jerseys since the beginning of the 2011-12 campaign.
It's common to refer to Lin's recent journey as a roller coaster ride. But that's not entirely accurate, mostly because roller coasters don't feature belligerent fans and detractors screaming at one another across the tracks. "Divisive" is a good word to use to describe Lin's career.
So let's take a quick trip back to see how the madness started and how Lin ended up where he is now.
Please keep hands and feet inside the car at all times.
Dec. 27, 2011: No Big Deal
Believe it or not, there was once a time when Lin's every move wasn't cause for endless analysis, followed by either celebration or condemnation. Case in point: Nobody really cared when Lin signed with the New York Knicks on Dec. 27, 2012.
Here's how ESPN's Marc Stein explained the Knicks' situation the day they signed Lin:
Just how long the Knicks plan to keep Lin is unclear. His contract is not guaranteed, so the Knicks can waive him at any time prior to Feb. 10 without having to pay the remainder of his contract. If and when Shumpert returns from his injury, he will likely resume his role as one of the team's three point guards, leaving Lin as the odd man out.
Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the move's significance, huh?
Feb. 4, 2012: What Have We Here?
After playing just 55 minutes all season, Lin came out of nowhere to log 36 minutes against the New Jersey Nets on Feb. 4, 2012. The Knicks had lost 11 of their previous 13 games, so perhaps coach Mike D'Antoni was desperate for some kind of spark.
Lin pumped in 25 points, dished out seven dimes and grabbed five rebounds in a 99-92 Knicks win. As would so often be the case in the coming weeks, he found himself in front of a microphone trying to explain what had just happened.
Lin told the assembled postgame media: "This night, it just hasn't really sunk in yet to be honest. It's like I'm still kind of in shock about everything that happened but I'm just trying to soak it all in right now."
Feb. 9, 2012: First Signature Moment
The Knicks had rattled off two straight wins by the time they squared off against the Washington Wizards, and Lin had been right in the middle of both victories.
But he hadn't yet provided the kind of standout highlight that would get him serious run on a national level.
Feb. 10, 2012: It Begins
To this point, Lin's surge was a nice story. It was fun. He came out of nowhere to put up impressive stats for one of the NBA's most storied teams, but his play had to be a mirage. Surely he'd soon slip without Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire in the lineup as support.
In the future, when scholars divide eras, this particular game will serve as Year Zero. Everything before it will be referred to as B.L. (Before Linsanity), while everything that came after will get the "A.L." label. Agreed? Good. Let's move on.
Feb. 14, 2012: Can't Stop, Won't Stop
There's not a lot to say here, other than that Linsanity had already reached a fever pitch at this point. A game-winning triple against the Toronto Raptors wasn't necessary to grow the already outsized legend, but Lin hit one anyway.
Not to bring the tone down, but this moment would be the absolute high point of Lin's career. Chances are, he's not going to come close to it again.
March 14, 2012: Farewell, Pringles
In what could be considered the beginning of the end of Linsanity, D'Antoni resigned on March 14, 2012 after the Knicks finished a 2-6 stretch with Anthony back in the lineup.
Lin had been putting up pretty good numbers, but nothing like his totals in mid-February. Plus, the Knicks had lost six straight to start the month of March. When New York went out and smashed the Portland Trail Blazers that night by 42 points, it should have been telling that Lin scored just six points to go along with six turnovers.
It's hard to defend a causal relationship between D'Antoni's resignation and the end of Linsanity, but one thing's for sure: Lin's star turn was over.
March 31, 2012: End of an (Incredibly Brief) Era
The Knicks announced on March 31 that Lin would undergo surgery to repair a torn meniscus. The injury had caused him to exit a March 24 contest against the Detroit Pistons, but (spoiler alert) few could have imagined at the time that Lin would never play for the Knicks again.
In all, Lin had played in 35 games for the Knicks, averaging 14.6 points and 6.2 assists per game.
May, 2012: Signs of Trouble
Lin came under fire for claiming his knee was at 85 percent during the Knicks' first-round series against the Miami Heat. Some thought he should have been able to give it a go, but when he later clarified his comments, those questioning his toughness ended up looking pretty unreasonable.
Lin's torn meniscus would eventually heal, but over the coming months, we'd learn that there was an irreparable tear between some of the Knicks vets and the upstart point guard who had stolen the headlines in an otherwise ho-hum season.
June/July, 2012: Poison Pills and Fresh Starts
The particulars of this portion of Lin's saga are complicated. So here's a relatively basic summary:
Because of a quirky NBPA ruling the Knicks were allowed to keep their early Bird rights on Lin, meaning they'd be able to match any free-agent offer sheet he signed with another team. There wasn't exactly a flood of suitors for Lin's services, but the Houston Rockets eventually inked him to a three-year, $25 million offer sheet.
In typical Rockets fashion, the signing was deviously clever. The deal was backloaded, which would have forced the Knicks to pay a hefty tax bill in the contract's final year. Suddenly, New York was weighing its options after shouting from the mountaintop that it would match any offer for its world-famous point guard.
Anthony chimed in with his two cents, calling the offer sheet "ridiculous." If there were any lingering doubts about 'Melo's feelings toward Lin, that assessment pretty much erased them.
In the end, the Knicks didn't match the offer, and Lin became a Rocket.
On July 19, it was official: Lin's tenure in Houston had begun.
Oct., 2012: Bumpy at the Outset
Lin didn't wow anyone with his preseason play in Houston, but then again, it's hard to do anything significant in games that don't matter. Still, perhaps Rockets fans were hoping for more than 28 percent from the field in six exhibition games.
October statistics don't typically matter, but for a player with such high expectations, it would have been nice if Lin had done something to prove that his 35-game cameo in New York was for real.
The preseason came and went with little news. But then the bomb dropped.
Oct. 27, 2012: Howdy, Harden
The Rockets traded for James Harden just days before the 2012-13 season began, bringing on a ball-dominant star (though nobody was sure of it at the time) that would essentially relegate Lin to a supporting role.
It's hard to know if anyone in the Rockets organization was ever really serious about handing Lin the keys to the offense for a full season, but with Harden on board, it became clear immediately that Lin was going to take a back seat.
Dec. 10, 2012: Blip on the Radar
You'll note we've skipped over a full six weeks to get to one of Lin's best games of the season. Don't worry, we didn't miss anything important during that time.
In those 19 games, Lin never once eclipsed the 20-point mark and registered double-digit assists just three times.
But on Dec. 10, Lin erupted for 38 points against the San Antonio Spurs. Naturally, he did it with Harden out of the lineup, proving once again that Lin simply isn't as useful unless he's the team's No. 1 ball-handler.
Houston lost the game, but Lin was terrific. He attacked aggressively, working his way to the foul line a dozen times and generally putting pressure on the Spurs defense all night long. Unfortunately, Lin's performance in this particular game was the exception, not the rule, during his first year with the Rockets.
Dec. 17, 2012: The Return
Lin scored 22 points, handed out 9 assists and snagged four rebounds in a 109-96 win over the Knicks in his first return to Madison Square Garden. It had to have been satisfying for Lin to stick it to the team that decided it no longer had any use for him.
Ah, sweet vengeance.
Jan., 2013: Yuck
The Rockets won the first four games of their 2013 calendar year, but then lost seven in a row. Lin hit just 36.4 percent of his shots during the skid, and his shooting woes had returned after a December that saw him shoot nearly 49 percent from the floor.
Lin had fallen into an ugly pattern. He'd put together a couple of solid games but then follow them up with a 3-of-12 performance like he did against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Jan. 19.
Inconsistency became the consistent theme.
Feb., 2013: Skills Challenges Are Cool, Too
Thankfully, Lin didn't make the All-Star team. For a while there, it appeared as though he'd have to endure the awkwardness of playing alongside the game's best—even when he would have known that his play hadn't warranted the honor.
But hey, he got to compete in the Skills Challenge at All-Star Weekend. So it wasn't a total loss.
All in all, February wasn't a terrible month for Lin. He wound up averaging 14.5 points and 6.6 assists per game while shooting 42 percent from beyond the arc—easily the best shooting month of his season.
March/April, 2013: A Hell of a Finish
Maybe Lin was just struggling to fit in with his new teammates. After an initial adjustment period, he was pretty darn good in the final two months of the regular season.
Over his final 23 games, Lin scored in double figures 19 times. Best of all, he settled into his role as the secondary attacker the Rockets could count on consistently. Houston went 14-9 over its final 23 games, thanks largely to Lin finding his role and embracing it.
2013 Postseason: A Forgettable Finish
Technically, Lin suited up for four games in the series, but he eventually lost his starting job to Patrick Beverley. Overall, Lin managed averages of just four points and two assists per game against OKC.
It was an ugly end to a season that had a few more ups than downs, but Lin could hardly help the fact that he suffered the injury. The problem, though, was that Beverley's solid performance created questions about Lin's role.
2013-14 Season: Here We Are
So, as the Rockets head toward a 2013-14 season packed with more expectations than any in recent memory, Lin's position with the team remains somewhat uncertain.
There are those that think he'd be best suited for a bench role (author raises hand), while others think his excellent closing run last year shows that he's actually deserving of another shot at the starter's spot.
There's plenty of time for things to shake out before the regular season commences, but one thing's for sure: Based on the way Jeremy Lin's career has gone so far, there's no way the coming weeks will lack for surprises.
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