Mike D'Antoni Comments on Knicks Locker Room During Jeremy Lin Era

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 13, 2016

New York Knicks' Jeremy Lin helps Mike D'Antoni back to the bench area after D'Antoni received a technical in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks Tuesday, March 6, 2012, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

According to former New York Knicks head coach Mike D'Antoni, not every member of the team's locker room was caught up in Linsanity during the 2011-12 season.

On Tuesday's edition of Adrian Wojnarowski's The Vertical Podcast with Woj, D'Antoni discussed how Jeremy Lin's rapid rise caused issues of resentment within the team, namely Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire (via SB Nation's Nets Daily):

It was there, it's real. The problem that we had was that for Jeremy to be really good, which he was, he had to play a certain way. It was hard for him to adapt.

Amare, Melo, whatever, had to play a certain way too to be really, really good. So there was that inherent conflict of what's better for the team, what isn't. Can they co-exist? Can they not? And again, they could have co-existed if Melo went to the 4, which he really didn't want to and Amare came to the back up 5, like with Tyson [Chandler], which he really didn't want though.

Lin was among the biggest stories in the league in February 2012, when he averaged 20.9 points and 8.4 assists a game, per Basketball-Reference.com. The peak of Linsanity arguably came when he dropped 38 points against the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 10, 2012:

D'Antoni isn't the first to mention a level of friction internally with the Knicks resulting from Linsanity. Stoudemire voiced a similar refrain in February, per Marc Berman of the New York Post:

If [Lin] stayed, it would've been cool. But everyone wasn't a fan of him being a new star. So he didn't stay long. Jeremy was a great, great guy, great with teammates, worked hard. He put the work in. We were proud of him having his moment. A lot of times you got to enjoy somebody else's success. That wasn't the case for us during that stretch. You got to enjoy that and let that player enjoy himself and cherish those moments. He was becoming a star and I didn't think everyone was pleased with that.

Berman wrote that "it was clear whom [Stoudemire] meant," referring to Anthony.

In a piece for ESPN The Magazine in 2012, Tim Keown spoke to a source who claimed Anthony engineered D'Antoni's exit from the team, with Lin playing a role in Anthony's thinking: "Lin was getting what Carmelo was promised. And Carmelo thought D'Antoni was going to favor Jeremy, so he had to get D'Antoni out of there."

Anthony dismissed the notion in March, per ESPN.com's Ohm Youngmisuk:

"Still?" Anthony asked when told that Lin came up when reporters talked to Stoudemire. "That was [four] years ago? I don't know. I don't have no comment about that. If [Lin] was becoming a star, we should embrace that. I don't know. We didn't embrace it? Was that the word?"

"S---, if that was the case then I'd be upset right now with KP [rookie fan favorite Kristaps Porzingis], if he's talking about me. I doubt if [Stoudemire is] talking about me. I doubt that. I highly doubt that."

It's doubtful the Knicks' trajectory would've changed all that much had the team re-signed Lin in the summer of 2012. In the aftermath of Linsanity, the 27-year-old has become a dependable point guard but nowhere near a marquee talent.

Lin will be playing in the Big Apple once again after signing with the Brooklyn Nets this offseason. Should he thrive with the Nets, the topic of his departure from the Knicks will likely continue being a talking point for the franchise.

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