With all the will-the-New-York-Knicks-match-the-Houston-Rockets-offer-to-Jeremy-Lin or-won't-they drama, the acquisition of Raymond Felton just before the deadline, the shock of Lin going to Texas (after he went back to the Rockets and redid the first contract), the James Dolan holding a grudge angle, the Knicks choosing this moment to show fiscal restraint -- we haven't had time to give a proper sendoff to Linsanity.
Lin rose from the witness protection program that is the end of the bench on Feb. 4, 2012, when he sparked the Knicks to a 99-92 win over the then New Jersey Nets, scoring 25 points with seven assists. Six days after that he poured in 38 points against the Los Angeles Lakers, and four days later he drilled a three-pointer in the waning seconds to defeat the Toronto Raptors. And a full-fledged pehnomenon was born. He helped salvage the Knicks' season, as the team went 2-11 in their previous 13 games before the victory over the Nets. Yes, he had that stinker against the Miami Heat, but he followed that with a 19-point, 13-assist, one-turnover performance, leading the Knicks to a comeback win over the Cleveland Cavaliers (ok, it was only the Cavs and not the Heat).
Lin brought excitement, energy, electricity and fun to the Garden, the likes of which hadn't been seen since the 1990s. And it all happened naturally and organically, which was part of the fun. Puns flew from every corner of the world. Debates and opinions flew just as quickly, on whether he was a flash in the pan or the real thing. But there had really been nothing like it before. Every game was a happening. It was Fernando Mania, a 1985 Dwight Gooden start at Shea and Mark Fidrych on Monday Night Baseball all rolled into one. His Harvard background and ethnicity also played into his incredible story. His likeness was chiseled into the 2011-'12 New York Folk Hero Mount Rushmore alongside Victor Cruz and R.A. Dickey.
In the 26 games he played in since that first night against the Nets, the Knicks had a 16-10 record. It wasn't all Lin, though, as he had a lot of help. Which was really the point of his success. He made everyone on the team better. He opened up the floor, hitting a wide-open Steve Novak, or a driving Landry Fields -- it didn't matter who was on the court, Lin would find him or find a way to score himself. It was true team basketball. It was 1970s-Knicks style. Find the open man. That was the excitement. Not Lin piling up points, but doing it in a teamwide concept. At his press conference in Houston, he stated, "[Coach Kevin McHale's] system is what I believe in. Let the defense feed the offense, play fast . . . allow the ball to find the right person for the shot." That will most likely not be the Knicks' philosophy under Mike Woodson this coming season, as the game plan will revolve around the stars, which may prove to be successful (or not).
Sure, Lin may be too fragile to last a full season, he can't go to his left and he's defensively challenged, but he's a young, learning point guard, not a seasoned, polished veteran. His contract may have been "ridiculous" and the Knicks may ultimately have made the right move in not matching the Rockets' offer and may turn out to be better without him, but no one trusts James Dolan, whatever his motives were in not bringing Lin back. If Lin really wanted to remain a Knick it was in his power. He didn't have to go back to the Rockets and redo the original offer sheet. And if the Knicks really wanted him back, they could have done things a little differently and taken a more aggressive approach. The whole saga could have been avoided by both parties. But it can't be forgotten that Lin brought something to the Knicks that had been missing. And he was an original, and a fan favorite, which can't be discounted.
Linsanity isn't dead, though, it's just moving on down South. It began in New York, but is a worldwide phenomenon. But for us, it was a two-plus month thrilling blip on the radar screen. And just like that, it's gone.