Amar’e Stoudemire returned to the New York Knicks on Monday after missing the past week following the death of his older brother, getting his first taste of “Lin-sanity” in a team workout.
In the absence of Stoudemire and injured playmaker Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks have won five games in a row behind the stunning emergence of point guard Jeremy Lin (林書豪), the NBA’s first US-born player of Taiwanese ancestry.
Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said Stoudemire will start alongside Lin for the first time at 8am this morning Taiwan time when the Knicks (13-15) play in Toronto after missing four games following the death of his older brother Hazell in a car crash.
The game is being broadcast in Taiwan by ELTA Sports, on Chunghwa Telecom’s MOD platform.
“We should go to another level, no doubt about it,” D’Antoni said.
Lin has averaged 26.8 points, 8 assists and 4.2 rebounds in the past five games. His drives to the basket, pin-point passes and electrifying effort have sparked the Knicks in the past week, but the question hanging over the club is how Lin will function alongside Stoudemire and Anthony, who was sidelined by a groin strain on Monday last week, but is likely to return this week.
“It’s the same thing for me, just try and get on the floor and help my team win,” said Lin, who sat out Monday’s practice session to rest his body. “When we get out there, hopefully we will hit the ground running.”
Regardless of what happens in the remainder of the season, Lin has had an impact on a Knicks team that was struggling to find itself.
“He has really changed the mind-set and mentality of this team,” Tyson Chandler said. “We were really struggling and fighting the offense. He’s making the right decisions and because of that, the offense is flowing and it’s giving a lot of guys confidence.”
Lin has the most points by any player in his first four starts in more than 30 years and he has been named the NBA’s Eastern Conference Player of the Week.
Lin beat out LeBron James and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat, and Greg Monroe of the Detroit Pistons to capture the honor. He became only the second player of Asian descent to be honored as the NBA’s Player of the Week, after China’s Yao Ming (姚明).
Asked how he is coping with his newfound stardom, Lin was quoted by ESPN as saying: “It’s a lot right now, but I think I’m getting used to it a little more. I don’t really care how long this lasts, as long as we win, to be honest.”
Stoudemire loves the attention and the energy Lin’s play has brought.
“I mean, he’s playing well. Only in New York would he become an international icon over night. He was about to get cut, and he comes out and has a phenomenal week. It’s those Cinderella stories, man, that really capture the fans and also the media,” Stoudemire said.