For nearly three weeks, he owned New York. Jeremy Lin went from sleeping under the covers on his brother's sofa to running an offense on the cover of Time magazine. The undrafted Harvard grad inspired headlines, rap songs, e-books and a nerd-chic pride that resonated with underdogs everywhere.
Lin gave Knicks fans something to cheer about, which is a big part of the reason Knicks fans stood and cheered him Monday night when he was introduced before the game with his Houston Rockets teammates.
The other part of the reason is that with the Knicks playing the way they are and sitting at the top of the Eastern Conference, no one is bitter that things ended up the way they did, that Lin wound up in a Rockets uniform instead of signing a long-term contract with the Knicks.
"I've moved on, they've moved on,'' Lin said after scoring 22 points and adding eight assists to lead Houston to a 109-96 win over a Knicks team that was missing Carmelo Anthony. "I have good memories. At the same time, we're all in a different place now."
Initially, fans were outraged when the Knicks chose not to match Houston's three-year, $25.1-million offer for Lin and went with the trio of Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni at point guard. Now Linsanity seems like something fun that happened long ago, like big hair and shoulder pads.
Lin, 24, clearly was pumped up to be back on the floor where he had such an amazing run last season. He made four layups in the first quarter and helped the Rockets blow open the game with a 15-0 run in the third quarter, when he scored or assisted on five of his team's six baskets.
Lin said he had some feelings of nostalgia before the game, saying he never will forget what he and the team did last season. Lin, who played only 55 minutes through the Knicks' first 23 games, led a turnaround of an 8-15 team when he came in for an injured Baron Davis. That stretch included many memorable games, including 38 points against the Lakers and 28 points with a game-winning shot against the Raptors.
"It was just a fun time, obviously," Lin said. "It was a time of my life being able to play basketball and for us to win games. To do it in the fashion we did with so much fun and energy and buzz."
Yet one gets the feeling that living in New York wasn't all fun and games for Lin. It got to the point that he could not walk the streets of New York without being mobbed and had to publicly plead for reporters to leave his grandmother in Taiwan alone.
Though what the Rockets are doing right now isn't anywhere near as exciting as what Lin went though last season, it's a good place for Lin to be, Rockets coach Kevin McHale said.
"There's a lot of learning that needs to go on. I actually think Jeremy's very comfortable with it," McHale said. "Just getting to know him, I think the whole Linsanity thing was probably a little much for him."