It seems like a lifetime ago that Jeremy Lin was just a no-name kid from Harvard struggling to secure a spot on an NBA roster when he put together a now-mythological spree of performances that turned him into a worldwide phenomenon and gave birth to the name “Linsanity.”
It’s still difficult to comprehend just how it came to be, and in the intervening years, the lava on his career has cooled considerably as he’s evolved into something of an average NBA journeyman. He’s had stints in Houston, Los Angeles, and most recently Charlotte, where he enjoyed one of the better seasons of career since his magical breakout campaign. Now, he’s headed back to the Big Apple, only this time with the Brooklyn Nets.
Naturally, his return to New York has been the source of some nostalgia. But believe it or not, not everyone was thrilled about Lin’s meteoric success as it was happening. There have long been whispers of discord inside the Knicks’ locker-room at the time, jealousy being what it is, and there was one high-profile teammate in particular who allegedly didn’t like being nudged out of the spotlight. With a tip of the hat to SBNation, here’s what former Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni had to say about it on The Vertical Podcast with Woj:
“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, which he really didn’t want though.”
But Linsanity was over almost as quickly as it started. A restricted free agent at the time, Lin signed a $35 million offer with the Houston Rockets that summer, which the Knicks declined to match. Given his stellar play and the ensuing media extravaganza, it was a stunning turn of events, although even then there were rumblings that ‘Melo’s issues with Lin weighed heavily on that decision. He even went so far as to call Lin’s new deal “ridiculous.”
Thus, Linsanity lives on now only in the collective memory of Knicks fans, and though it seems unlikely he’ll recapture the magic of his debut, New Yorkers should be excited about his return. He’s a more than capable backup point guard who can potentially help the listless Nets get back on track.