Jeremy Lin returns to Madison Square Garden tonight in his first game back in New York since the Linsanity craze hit Manhattan earlier this year. He also returns a far richer man, one who no longer has to sleep on Landry Fields’ couch, nor has to rent a house from David Lee.
Nope. Earlier this year, Lin left the Knicks amid a stir – he signed a three year, $25 million offer sheet with the Houston Rockets – a contract that the Knicks left unclaimed and allowed the one popular guy they had on the team go.
In the brief, but spectacular fifty days of Linsanity, Lin averaged 18.5 points in those 26 games and had at least eight assists in 12 of 25 games he started. He carried the Knicks, who had barely seen success outside of the early days of Amare Stoudemire’s reign over the course of the prior decade, to a 7-game winning streak. When the embattled Carmelo Anthony and Amare were out, all we had, and all the Knicks needed, was Jeremy Lin.
He lit up the city, he became the most popular sports star in New York, and he became a cultural icon.
First of all, he left. Many will believe he saw a money grab and took it.
Of course, many of us would have done the same. Sports careers can be quite short and if Lin did not get all the money he could now, who knew if it would be out there later? He has been in and out of the NBA in his short career; a three year deal guarantees he can stay.
Second, he’s on the Rockets, otherwise known as not a Knick.
Plenty of Knicks return and get decent ovations, but few were at their height with the Knicks when they left (perhaps that’s why the Knicks have been awful for a long time). When David Lee returned, he got cheered. That could be because he technically got traded so the Knicks could get Amare and because we all knew he could not fit under the cap if we wanted Lebron or any other future Free Agent.
If the fans in attendence feel like Lin betrayed them, or wronged them in any way, they will be more than willing to boo. Knicks fans probably have a lot of boos saved up considering how large the quota has been for each season recently, and how few moments of despair we have actually had this year in comparison.
But of course, we are good, and we are happy. The Knicks are giving us all they can and are one of the best teams in the NBA. It’s much easier to look at prior times in a positive light when we’re happy.
That’s why we should not forget the good Lin gave us, even for a short time. Shane Spencer still makes a living over his run in NY; same with Aaron Small. Ray Lucas had a half of a good season with the Jets and his voice is still strong here in NY.
New Yorkers are seen as smart fans who are loyal. It sure is time we support that fact tonight. Don’t boo Lin. Celebrate the good times he gave us. Lord knows, as Knicks fans, we never get enough of those.
Just a reminder….Bang!