10 years later, ex-NBA coach reflects on ‘Linsanity’

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By Nikk-la via Wikimedia Creative Commons

Mike D’Antoni, who coached the New York Knicks when Jeremy Lin was a player in 2012, sheds light on ‘Linsanity’ on J.J. Redick’s podcast, The Old Man and the Three. Lin has credited D’Antoni’s coaching as a factor in why he played so well.

D’Antoni calls Linsanity the “greatest time ever” in his career, and revealed on the podcast the one-liner Lin never dropped on Kobe Bryant when the Knicks and the Lakers faced off in 2012. Days before the two teams played each other, Bryant snubbed Lin by saying “I don’t even know what he’s done. Like, I have no idea what you guys are talking about.”

“Jeremy had this thing planned that he was going to say, ‘Well, I guess Kobe knows who my name is now.’ He didn’t have the balls, guts to do that. He punted, but he really wanted to say that,” D’Antoni said.

The Knicks would go on to beat the Lakers, and the two would later become teammates for the Lakers during the 2014-15 season. The Knicks’ win ended the Lakers’ nine-game winning streak against them — Lin had proved his prowess to those who underestimated him.

Being underestimated and overlooked has been a central theme of Lin’s basketball career.

Despite his impressive record at Palo Alto High School, he received no offers to play college basketball, according to Radii China. Taking matters into his own hands, Lin sent his highlight reel himself. He ended up playing for Harvard Crimsons, becoming the first player ever in the Ivy League to earn 1,450 points, 450 rebounds, 400 assists and 200 steals, according to ESPN. 

As an Asian American player in basketball, Lin simply did not pass the “eye test.” As Jesse Pottinger for Radii China writes: “His appearance was almost certainly a factor: He wasn’t particularly tall or strong, and recruiters lacked a frame of reference for the ostensibly anomalous Asian American player. He just didn’t pass the ‘eye test.’”

D’Antoni revealed on the podcast that he initially underestimated Lin as well, before his breakout series of games that marked ‘Linsanity.’

In February 2012, Lin made his mark as the first Taiwanese American player in the NBA. There were few expectations for Lin — so he set the bar himself. Hot off the Knicks bench, Lin stunned many by scoring 25 points against the Nets, ultimately scoring 130 points in his first five career games. This hot streak would help turn what was thought to be a disappointing season for the Knicks, according to NBC News.

Lin became a hero to many Asian American basketball fans — and on the 10th anniversary of ‘Linsanity,’ the basketball player revealed that his biggest regret was not utilizing his platform more at the time, as he struggled to grasp the enormity of this moment.“Society has always tried to say Asians can’t do this. Asians you can’t do that. You hear about the bamboo ceiling … or people who aren’t even given an opportunity to come to the country at times through history,” Lin said to NBC News. “What that moment meant was just being able to compete in the same court, in the same arena. And then to defeat and to overcome and to win. I think that’s what I’m really proud of.”

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