New York Knicks star Jeremy Lin will have left knee surgery and miss six weeks, likely ending his amazing breakthrough National Basketball Association (NBA) season.
The Knicks said on Saturday their point guard had a scan last week that revealed a small, chronic meniscus tear.
With the regular season ending on April 26, the biggest story in basketball this season is probably out for the rest of the campaign regardless of whether the Knicks make the playoffs.
He was barely holding on to a place in the NBA back in February. Now, after performances that brought him to stardom from Taiwan to New York, he has to go back to the bench when he wants to play most.
“If this was done very early in the year ... I don’t know where my career would be. I could be, would be definitely without a job and probably fighting for a summer league spot,” Lin said. “But having said that, this happening now hurts just as much because all the players, we really put our heart and souls into the team and into season, and to not be there when it really matters most is hard.”
New York will continue to turn to Baron Davis in place of Lin, the undrafted Harvard alumnus who became the starter in February and turned in a series of brilliant performances, sparking the phenomenon known as Linsanity.
Lin is averaging 14.1 points and 6.1 assists, but the numbers only tell a small part of the story.
The Knicks were under .500 and looking like a mess when Lin was given a chance to play extended minutes at point guard for then-coach Mike D’Antoni on Feb. 4 against New Jersey.
Lin, the first American-born player of Taiwanese descent to play in the NBA, scored 25 points with seven assists in that New York victory and was inserted into the starting lineup two days later against Utah, taking the Knicks on a seven-game winning streak that gained worldwide attention.
Lin left the Knicks’ easy victory over Detroit on March 24, saying afterward he could have returned for the fourth quarter if the game had been close. He took part in shoot-around before their game last Monday and believed he could deal with the pain.
Though the swelling went down, the pain never did, and after testing it again on Friday and Saturday, he decided to have the surgery.
“I can’t really do much. Can’t really cut or jump, so it’s pretty clear that I won’t be able to help the team unless I get this fixed right now,” Lin said before the Knicks played Cleveland. “It’s disappointing for me, it’s hard to watch the games and I’d want to be out there more than anything right now, but hopefully, it’s a six-week rehab process, but I tend to heal fast, so hopefully I can come back as soon as possible and still contribute this season, hopefully.”
Lin will be a free agent after the season and said he hopes to return to New York, but otherwise was not thinking that far in the future.
“I’m not even worried about that right now,” he said. “It’s not like a career-ending thing or it’s not something that will bother me. Once it’s fixed, it’s fixed, it’s the most simple surgery you can have and so I’m more concerned about the season.”