Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Ex-Knick Jeremy Lin said in an interview with MSG Network's Mike Breen that he wanted Houston to lower its contract offer to him in the summer of 2012 so he could remain with the Knicks.
Lin made the comment when asked by Breen if he had any regrets over not staying in New York.
Here's his full answer from the interview, the full version of which is scheduled to air at 5:30 PM on Friday on MSG Network:
"I'm not sure if I've ever even said this publicly because, in my mind, like you said, I'm looking forward. And I think, I'm not sure if I said this publicly, but I don't have any regrets. Because really, to me, I didn't really have a decision like I only have one contract. I was only offered one contract. We couldn't get anything from any other team. And so, I had to go find a contract from somebody. And I remember when Houston gave the offer, I promise you, I had just finished a workout and got into my car and got the phone call from my agent and I said to him, 'can you tell Houston to lower the offer, this is too much. Can you tell someone to lower the offer', because I wanted to go back to New York and I wanted New York to match.
"The time there, with the fans, everything. It was so special. I was like, I need to go back to New York. That's where my heart is. So, I call my agent and said 'hey, find a way to get out of Houston. Give me a less good of a contract so that New York will match it' and he said, 'we can't, this is Houston's final offer and we've been talking to them for a week, two weeks, three weeks, this is it. We're at the end and this is the only offer that you got, you have to sign it.' So I remember signing it, and again, this is no disrespect to Houston. At that time, I didn't know anything about the organization or the city. I just knew New York.
"So, I actually was trying really hard. I was like, man, we have to find a way to make this contract, like bring down the money, bring down the years, whatever we need to do, make it easier. So that it's not a poison pill. And that's honestly where my heart was at the time and obviously it didn't happen, but in my mind, I was like, 'all right, well, I still hope that New York matches and there's still a chance.' But it was a long 72 hours."
Lin, as you remember, had an incredible run with the Knicks earlier that season. His play over a three-week stretch -- combined with his backstory -- turned Lin into an international phenomenon.
Lin was a restricted free agent in the summer of 2012. It was widely assumed at the time that the Knicks would match any offer made to Lin. The club actually wanted Lin to go out and find an offer before it made its own offer to Lin.
Houston signed Lin to a four-year, $29 million offer sheet that the Knicks decided not to match due to the amount in the final two seasons of the contract. They ended up re-signing Raymond Felton and won 54 games the next season. It's interesting to think about how the Knicks would have done if they'd re-signed Lin and brought together the rest of the veteran-laden group from the 2012-13 season.
Mike D'Antoni was one of the driving forces behind Lin's rise. He resigned in March of 2012 and Mike Woodson took over. Lin probably wouldn't have been used in the same way under Woodson if he'd stayed with the Knicks.
In the interview with Breen, Lin reflected on his time in New York.
"The number one thing I would say is just the fan support. Since then I've gone through a lot of highs and lows. I've been fortunate enough to win an NBA Championship and go through the championship parade and things like that. And that was incredible, but what happened in New York during that stretch -it was just really not something that I'll ever experience again. It's not really anything that even an NBA player may experience. It was that unique. And it was all built around how the fans were on a different level in terms of the energy, the excitement. That's really what I remember, and that's what brings a huge smile to my face when I think back."
Lin, who is raising money to help those impacted by the coronavirus crisis, told Breen a poignant story about the night that Linsanity started - in a win over the Nets.
Here is the anecdote:
"My mindset going into game was - if I don't do well I'm getting cut and if I don't do well my NBA career is over. So that was something that my agent had made me aware of. And the night before in Boston, I just played it safe and my agent Roger Montgomery was just like 'this might be it for you, you cannot play safe'. I just remember I was praying a lot and I just thinking the most God glorifying thing I could do is just to play my brand of basketball. And if I fall flat on my face, I can accept that. But the one thing I couldn't accept is to go out not swinging."
"I struggled heavily with anxiety before games. Like really, really bad anxiety - couldn't sleep, couldn't eat at times. But before that game though, I was as calm as ever. I mean, I remember, it like it was so different. I was so calm. I was just sitting there the whole time like 'all right, come on Coach, give me a chance. Sub me in, sub me in please.' And in the first quarter, our point guard got in foul trouble early, got two fouls. So I just went up to the scorer's table. And I was like, 'here it is.' And I remember a line that Roger had said to me earlier that day. He said 'no matter what you do, in tonight's game, you have to play Jeremy Lin basketball.'
"So as I went to the scorer's table, I was like 'I have to play Jeremy Lin basketball and trust and be okay with anything that happens.' And so the first half ended and I had six points in the first half and my career high was 12 at that time. So I'm like, if the game ended right now and I ended with six points, that's not terrible! That's half of my career high and I still have another half of basketball to play. But I was just comfortable. That first half I was comfortable with making plays. I was just in a groove and I had energy. And then in the second half, I can't even explain to you what happened. I don't remember it all. It was a blur. But I just kind of blacked out and was in the moment and in the zone. I started celebrating. It was like I just let out 18 months of emotion, built up anger or hurt from maybe my past NBA experiences. And I kind of just let it all out in one half of basketball."