Jeremy Lin didn’t spend a lot of time with the New York Knicks, but his stay at Madison Square Garden was certainly a memorable one.
That, though, was more than eight years ago. Plenty has happened since, both with the Knicks and the rest of the NBA.
So when the MSG Network decided to showcase “Linsanity” all week this week, Lin was “floored” — especially with the COVID-19 pandemic taking hold in New York.
“When I first got the call from my agent like, ‘Hey, they want to do this,’ I was floored,” Lin said on ESPN on Friday. “Because with COVID, right now, New York is going through one of the toughest times that it has seen in decades. It is a very, very tragic time. And the Knicks were like, ‘Hey, we need to do something to uplift everybody.’
“They have a whole history of footage and games that they can air, and they chose my games.”
Jeremy Lin joins #TheJump from China and tells us they've started 5-on-5 practices again there. We also talk Linsanity as the Knicks prepare to do a whole Linsanity Week, and how the Raptors team he was on last season may get a 2-year reign as NBA champions. pic.twitter.com/yKaC2NZUGL— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) May 1, 2020
Lin, in his second year in the NBA after going undrafted out of Harvard, was called up from the D-League in February 2012 when the Knicks were just 8-15.
That’s when “Linsanity” took off.
Lin dropped 25 points in 36 minutes in his first outing with the Knicks that month, leading them to a win against the New Jersey Nets. Behind him, the team won nine of its next 12 games while Lin averaged 22.3 points, nine assists and 2.3 steals per contest. Out of nowhere, Lin had taken the league by storm.
Lin didn’t stay with the Knicks long after that. He spent the next two seasons in Houston, and then bounced around between five different teams before he left to play in the Chinese Basketball Association this season.
"Even for me, I was like, I'm still recognizing and realizing maybe the impact that that stretch [with the Knicks] had on people,” Lin said on ESPN. “And so I have so much gratitude to the organization, to the Knicks, to MSG, to [owner James] Dolan, to everybody for allowing this to happen. Because honestly, I never expected that ... Yeah, I was floored."
Waiting for the CBA to resume play
Lin spoke to ESPN’s Rachel Nichols on Friday from China, where he has been waiting for the CBA to resume play after taking a hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The CBA suspended play indefinitely on Feb. 1, so Lin returned home to California to wait it out. He made the trek back to China in March, and underwent a two-week quarantine, before rejoining the Beijing Ducks to resume practice. The league was going to resume play in mid-April, but now has pushed that date back. It’s unclear if it will resume or not.
“There's no sporting events or concerts, but life is definitely very much closer to normal [in China],” Lin said on ESPN. “And so we're working out every day, we get to play and train with the team every single day. It's like a very, very, very long training camp. It's like 'Groundhog Day.' But we're figuring it out, and we're just waiting to see what happens next and if we're going to have a season or not.”
“Linsanity” isn’t just a phenomenon in the United States either, he said.
“There's times when I literally can't get to the hotel elevator on the road,” Lin said on ESPN. “There's times where I have my assigned room and I always do a secret switch that my teammates don't even know about, so no one knows what room I'm in. But somehow still, there will be fans waiting outside my door sometimes or things like that, where we need to have security just standing outside my door and shooing away people … It’s been wild, but I love it. I love my fans.
“And this is kind of what I had mentioned, this is the closest thing to Linsanity in New York. It reminds me a lot of that.”
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