Jeremy Lin sat down with host Marc Lamont Hill for a wide-ranging interview on HuffPost Live Tuesday, and the Houston Rockets point guard candidly discussed everything from the highs of his start with the New York Knicks to the pain of his departure.
Proceeding chronologically, Lin first discussed the emotions he felt after his initial breakout with the Knicks, a 25-point outburst in a 99-92 win over the New Jersey Nets on Feb. 4, 2012:
"I remember after that game I was in the shower and I was just crying tears of joy. I was like, 'Dude, they can't cut me. They have to keep me. After this, they have to keep me.'"
It's easy to forget more than two years after the fact, but Lin probably needed his incredible streak of play to keep his NBA career alive. He had barely played during the 2011-12 season and had only seen spot duty with the Golden State Warriors the year before.
His was a career on the brink, and that Feb. 2 contest may have kept him in the league all by itself.
Of course, there'd be more to come.
He went on to discuss the hype that built up as his run continued, acknowledging that forces beyond his control had inflated his legend to an alarming degree.
"I don't think through the whole process I was very comfortable at all. ... After the New Jersey game, I told my brother and sister, 'I really hope I don't start the next game because that's just going to be a lot at once.' And I literally hadn't run a single practice with the first team."
Lin would start, of course, tossing in at least 20 points in eight of his next nine games.
"I would say the hype was exaggerated and that created a polarizing effect," Lin told Hill.
Then, the conversation moved to Lin's exit that summer from the Knicks, a confusing process that featured a handful of twists and turns. New York pledged to keep him, only to let him leave as a restricted free agent.
Lin was asked why he left the Knicks.
"I'm not sure if you could say I left New York," he said.
And as to feeling any pain at being let go, Lin responded: "I'm human, so of course. Even though everybody understands it's a business ... we're all human. We all have emotions."
Closing the loop, Lin also said he'd be interested in an eventual return to the Knicks—under the right circumstances: "Yeah, for sure. I've always said the New York fanbase has embraced me like none other, and I definitely haven't forgotten about it, and I'm still extremely grateful for it."
Though he's still under contract with the Rockets, Lin could someday find his way back to the Knicks. According to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, the Rockets are likely to make a play for one of the big names expected to become free agents this summer—a list that includes LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony.
To do that, they'll have to make some room on the roster and on the payroll.
According to an individual familiar with the Rockets’ plans, they are confident they would be able to move Lin and Asik’s contracts because unlike their failed efforts to trade Asik last season, they would be looking to clear cap room, rather than bring back rotation players with similar contracts .
And B/R's Stephen Babb lists New York as one of the teams that could be a good landing spot for Lin and Asik this summer.
Lin may have had a rough time in his whirlwind tour with the Knicks, but perhaps a second visit would go more smoothly.