Back in February 2012 “Linsanity” rocked Madison Square Garden and provided excitement the likes of which New York Knicks fans had been denied for more than a decade.
It was a momentous and joyous time that saw the sudden emergence of point guard Jeremy Lin, but according to then Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni, Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire weren’t so happy for Lin and didn’t want to adapt their styles to the team’s newfound winning ways.
Speaking on The Vertical Podcast on Tuesday, newly named Houston Rockets head coach D’Antoni said there was a divide in the locker room about which style the team should play with Lin’s clashing with Anthony and Stoudemire’s.
“It was there, it’s real,” D’Antoni said. “The problem that we had was that for Jeremy to be really good, which he was, he had to play a certain way. It was hard for him to adapt.
“Amar’e, Melo, whatever, kinda had their way they had to play a certain way to be really, really good. So there was that inherent conflict of: What’s better for the team? What isn’t? Can they co-exist? Can they not? And again, they could co-exist if Melo went to the 4, which he really didn’t want to, and if Amar’e came to the backup [center], like the Tyson [Chandler], which he didn’t want to.”
D’Antoni also admitted that he wasn’t sure how to strike right balance between his two superstars and Lin’s ascension to league sensation, which resulted in seven straight victories behind Lin’s 24.4 points and 9.1 assists during the stretch.
“So it’s now, ‘What are we gonna do?’ and so, we see how to go and I didn’t know how to get there,” D’Antoni said. “With losing again and you try to prod them and ‘you gotta play harder’ and all the coaches-speak … and communications like deteriorated.
“And then you would see the faces of guys that went through Linsanity and they’re looking at you … they see what we can do, we’re not doing it, they get frustrated.”
Since then reports have surfaced that Anthony, in particular, didn’t care for all the attention Lin was receiving, and Stoudemire made some veiled comments about the Knicks current leader in the New York Post in February.
“If [Lin] stayed, it would’ve been cool,’’ Stoudemire said. “But everyone wasn’t a fan of him being a new star. So he didn’t stay long. Jeremy was a great, great guy, great with teammates, worked hard. He put the work in. We were proud of him having his moment. A lot of times you got to enjoy somebody else’s success. That wasn’t the case for us during that stretch. You got to enjoy that and let that player enjoy himself and cherish those moments. He was becoming a star and I didn’t think everyone was pleased with that.’’
D’Antoni’s uncertainty as well as a sudden knee injury would limit Lin’s production for the rest of the season, and he eventually moved on to Houston, the Los Angeles Lakers, and then the Charlotte Hornets last season before making a triumphant return to the Big Apple with the Brooklyn Nets this summer.
Lin inked a three-year, $36 million deal with the Nets after putting up 16.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 4.1 assists for Charlotte and garnering some consideration for Sixth Man of the Year.