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Stop the Lin-sanity! Knicks fans react

Jeremy Lin in action against the Utah Jazz.

Jeremy Lin in action against the Utah Jazz. (Feb. 6, 2012) Credit: Jim McIsaac

In the end, "Lin-sanity" lasted about as long as a fast break.

And while Knicks fans were eager to jump on the Jeremy Lin bandwagon -- buying replicas of his No. 17 jersey and cheering his every move as he became an international phenomenon -- some were just as eager to jump off that bandwagon Wednesday.

That's because Lin is no longer a New York Knick, the team declining to match an offer sheet from the Houston Rockets that will pay the 23-year-old Harvard grad $25.1-million in a three-year deal.

"It was way too much money," basketball fan Mike Schneider, 25, of Farmingdale, said Wednesday.

Schneider, who works for the Nassau County Legislature, said he's not a Knicks fan but was there the night Lin came off the bench to score 25 points against the Nets on Feb. 4, sparking a seven-game win streak that gave rise to "Lin-sanity."

"I honestly can't fault him [Lin] for it," Schneider said of Lin signing the offer sheet from Houston. He also said he can't fault the Knicks for not matching that offer.

"Lin is going to get figured out. He's pretty raw."

Vinny Bavero, 65, of Farmingdale, said "it wouldn't have been good for the Knicks" to re-sign Lin.

The Knicks fan, working a food truck Wednesday morning at the Long Island Rail Road station in Farmingdale, also said he thinks the Knicks will be better off with recently acquired veterans Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd splitting time at point guard than with Lin, who despite taking New York City, the NBA and, in some ways, the world by storm last season, has played just 64 games.

"Felton will definitely be a better fit," Bavero said, saying of Lin: "What'd he play for? Twenty-five games? And he was looking at $25 million . . . Who knows if he's worth it?"

Some fans made it clear they think the Knicks made a big mistake not signing Lin, who saved the Knicks -- and their season -- after scoring 25 points off the bench in that game against the Nets on Feb. 4. Truth was, former coach Mike D'Antoni inserted Lin into the game out of desperation. Seven straight wins later, Lin-sanity was in full bloom.

"He's what made the Knicks," said Jennifer Paolino, 21, of Massapequa. "And now that he's leaving, I think it's going to hurt the team, overall."

Paolino, who said she is a senior at Queens College where she is a major in both elementary education and English. added, "It's really weird because he was this huge sensation. It's ironic that he did so well here and now he's leaving."

John Svendsen, 70, of Bay Shore, said the Knicks " should have signed Lin to a long-term contract a long time ago."

A Checker cabdriver, Svendsen said the Knicks missed the boat on this one. "They didn't recognize stardom when it's looking them in the face," he said, adding: "The recent history of the Knicks indicates they're going straight to the tank. They got a team of empty jerseys and prima donnas."

Undrafted out of Harvard, Lin was cut by both Golden State and Houston last season, and then was nearly waived by the Knicks. But after coming off the bench against the Nets in that Feb. 4 game, Lin went on to average 18.2 points and 7.7 assists in 25 starts for the Knicks, becoming an overnight international sensation.

Lin twice graced the cover of Sports Illustrated and was named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World.

He ultimately played his last game for the Knicks in their win over Detroit on March 24. Lin suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee that he decided to have surgery on and missed the rest of the regular season and first-round playoff series.

The Knicks announced their decision not to re-sign Lin about 90 minutes before the midnight deadline. There was no other statement from the Knicks. The Dolan family owns controlling interests in the Knicks, Madison Square Garden and Cablevision. Cablevision owns Newsday.

Fan Nick Perugini, 44, of Huntington, who works as a SUNY police officer at Farmingdale State College, said he thinks the move is good for both Lin and the Knicks.

"He is a great player," Perugini said of Lin, adding that he thinks some of his now-former Knicks teammates resented him. "He's young and he's got a lot of years left."

As Tom Indovino, 51, of Coram, pastor of New Life Assembly of God in Farmingdale, said Wednesday while handing out breakfast bars and hand-held advertisements for his church at the railroad station lot: "I was surprised they didn't give him [Lin] a second chance to play. He gave us some hope for a moment. He was exciting. You didn't know what was going to happen next.

"I think he enjoyed playing in New York -- he seemed happy to be here," Indovino said. "I think the team will miss him . . . I'll definitely miss him."

With Al Iannazzone

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