Jeremy Lin’s first game in Madison Square Garden wearing a Rockets uniform will attract the NBA’s spotlight Monday night. Lin, who made his transformation from undrafted, much-traveled benchwarmer to NBA phenomenon as a Knick, would just as soon put the game behind him and provide some closure to last year’s New York coming-out party.
“Linsanity” was born when the journeyman came off the bench to score 25 points and dish out seven assists against the Nets on Feb. 4. Lin averaged 24.4 points and 9.1 assists, giving the Knicks a much-needed shot of excitement and their fans some hope in the form of a seven-game win streak that became the catalyst for a playoff berth.
Lin’s breakout performance increased his free-agent market value and put the Knicks on the spot. While most fans initially were not happy with the team’s decision not to match Houston’s three-year, $25.1- million offer, the Knicks’ Eastern Conference-leading 18-5 start to the 2012-13 season has seemingly justified letting Lin go.
“If I were to be realistic, there will probably be a little bit of nostalgia or reminiscing and thankful for those times because those were great times,” Lin told reporters following the Rockets’ 103-96 loss to the Raptors Sunday. “At the same time, it’s the next chapter.
“I’m definitely ready to get it over with. I think in some sense there will be some closure. This will be the first return back to MSG, and there will never be another first return. We’re going to go out and play and have some fun.”
Knicks players sound as if they wouldn’t mind an end to media questions and talk about Lin’s short legacy.
“He came in and what he did was amazing,” Lin’s successor, Raymond Felton said via Newsday. “I was watching every game. He hit game-winners, he was doing all that. He was amazing. But it’s time to move on. We’re 18-5, whatever the record is, we’re 10-0 at home. There’s no need to talk about that no more.”