Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NEW YORK — There were times in recent weeks when Jeremy Lin wondered whether he’d ever get a real shot in the NBA.
“Of course, of course, that’s definitely going to cross my mind,” Lin, a Harvard grad and one of the first Asian-Americans in the NBA, said Monday night in the Knicks locker room.
After both the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets waived him in December, the Knicks took a flyer on Lin because they needed another point guard in the wake of of Baron Davis’s back injury.
Still, his contract is not guaranteed, so the Knicks could have opted to waive him at any time before Feb. 10 without having to pay the remainder of his contract.
Lin conceded Monday that he might’ve had to go overseas if the Knicks became the third team this season to waive him.
“No, I wasn’t considering that just yet but I figure if I get waived before the [Feb. 10] deadline and there’s nothing left, you know maybe I do need to go overseas but God works in mysterious and miraculous ways,” Lin said.
Lin won’t be getting waived anytime soon.
Not with “Linsanity” running wild.
“I’m riding him like friggin’ Secretariat,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni cracked after Lin put up a career-high 28 points, including 13 in the fourth period, to go with eight assists in his first NBA start as the Knicks beat the Utah Jazz, 99-88.
After losing 11 of 13 games, the Knicks have won two straight and look re-born since Lin began playing a prominent role Saturday night in a 99-92 win over the Nets.
He went for 25 points, seven assists and five rebounds in that game.
Without Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony against the Jazz, the Knicks offense hummed and flowed as well as it has all season with Lin playing nearly 45 minutes at the point.
So dominant and impressive was Lin’s performance, that the subject of Anthony — often criticized as a ball-stopper — leaving the game in the first quarter with a groin injury was barely broached during the post-game press conference. D’Antoni said Anthony was “day-to-day.”
Lin was serenaded with chants of “MVP” by the fans — especially when he hit a 3-pointer as the shot-clock expired to extend the lead to 95-86 with about two minutes remaining.
“That is huge, I think,” he said of the fans chants. “That is what homecourt advantage is all about…when you have the crowd behind us. The positive energy changes the game.”
After false starts with rookie Iman Shumpert and Toney Douglas, D’Antoni finally has a point guard who can create for others.
“He has an attacking mentality,” D’Antoni said. “He can get in the paint and he is a point guard. I think he will get better. He definitely will get better. He has an innate ability to see guys. You can’t explain the game all of the time and he doesn’t need explaining. He knows the game.”
Jared Jeffries, who managed a season-best 13 points, added: “He’s always played well. It’s his work ethic, and he never stops. He’s the first one every day and he does all his workouts with Kenny Atkinson and he deserves a lot of the credit right now on what he’s able to do.”
Said Tyson Chandler, “What Jeremy is doing is incredible because he’s moving everybody to their natural position. Nobody’s having to do anything that they’re not accustomed to doing.”
Asked if he was having the most fun in his basketball life, Lin flashed back to winning a state title at Palo Alto High School.
“It’s up there,” he said. “I mean, my high school team, we had that run to a state championship. They’re all just up there. I can’t just pick and choose and say this is the most fun.”
Not bad for a guy who was waived by two teams and might have had to head overseas if he was waived by a third.
“I’m thankful to my family and friends,” Lin said. “They’ve kept me really strong through all the ups and all the downs and there’s been quite a few in the last year and a half.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.