There wasn’t much doubt about the way things ended for Jeremy Lin during his New York Knicks stint. Amare Stoudemire shed some light on it a few months ago. Mike D’Antoni, the coach of that 2012 team, is doing it now, with Lin making his return to the city via the Brooklyn Nets, while D’Antoni is going to coach the Houston Rockets.
A lot of water has flowed through the Hudson, and every other river in the nation. Lin has been through ups and downs, teams and roles. He’s now in a good place, starting something new, with management and a coach that wants him. Four and something years ago, he came out of nowhere, from the edge of the edge of the bench, and made a dull Knicks team interesting, exciting, and most importantly winning. That seemed to rub a few players the wrong way.
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. Amar’e, Melo, whatever, kinda had their way they had to play a certain way 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 co-exist if Melo went to the 4, which he really didn’t want to, and if Amar’e came to the backup center, like the Tyson Chandler, which he didn’t want to.
D’Antoni doesn’t only blame the players. He says that he himself failed in getting the most out of that team after the short Linsanity phase, which seemed to have a great effect on the internal workings of the Knicks than some people believed. It wasn’t just Anthony or Stoudemire not liking it. The way D’Antoni reacted to the reaction from the players led to going with a style the stars were comfortable with, not necessarily what was the best for the team.
In the end, D’Antoni resigned, Mike Woodson took over, and the “rebellion” against Anthony and perhaps James Dolan was shut down. Lin left to the Houston Rockets, D’Antoni later coached the Los Angeles Lakers, and is now in an interesting situation, with a star player like James Harden, and maybe the same dilemma: Try to force a certain way of playing that the team’s biggest star might not be comfortable with, or do what makes Harden happy, but risk alienating other players, which is something that has happened a number of times in Houston, especially last season.
So it’s now, ‘What are we gonna do?’ and so, we see how to go and I didn’t know how to get there. With losing again and you try to prod them and ‘you gotta play harder’ and all the coaches-speak … and communications like deteriorated. And then you would see the faces of guys that went through Linsanity and they’re looking at you … they see what we can do, we’re not doing it, they get frustrated.
D’Antoni would have loved for the Rockets to sign Lin this offseason, but personally I don’t think that kind of reunion would have been the best thing for Lin. He’s now working with a coach that worked on the same 2012 Knicks team, he’s a starting point guard, on a team that’s almost like a clean slate, walking towards a (hopefully) bright future. In Houston, even if D’Antoni would have been able to “tame” Harden, which I highly doubt, it would have been a similar situation to the one in the past.
Who knows, maybe Lin isn’t as good as some (including me) think he is, and doesn’t deserve to be a starting point guard on a playoff team. But it’s about time we got to see for ourselves, instead of some coaches who believe in “old school” basketball, which often means killing creativity and letting stars get away with anything, determining Lin’s capabilities for him and us.
There’s some guys in the league that I really want to respect me. I respect the way they play, I respect the way they look at the game, and their respect is more important instead of having a job. If everybody else is killing me, I’d rather be killed and those guys respect me. Relationships deteriorated where I couldn’t get the most out of people. Take me away and they’ll up their game.
For those who don’t remember, this is what Amar’e said about Lin:
If he stayed, it would’ve been cool. But everyone wasn’t a fan of him being a new star. So he didn’t stay long. Jeremy was a great, great guy, great with teammates, worked hard. He put the work in. We were proud of him having his moment. A lot of times you got to enjoy somebody else’s success. That wasn’t the case for us during that stretch. You got to enjoy that and let that player enjoy himself and cherish those moments. He was becoming a star and I didn’t think everyone was pleased with that.