NEW YORK – Jeremy Lin’s astonishing break-out campaign with the New York Knicks has been cut short by a left knee injury that needs surgery, the National Basketball Association team said Saturday, March 31.
The Knicks said that Lin would be sidelined some six weeks “after an MRI revealed a small chronic meniscus tear” for which he will undergo an arthroscopic procedure.
That would have him missing the rest of the NBA regular season, which ends on April 26, and perhaps the first round of the playoffs — if indeed the Knicks reach the postseason.
The Knicks, who beat Cleveland 91-75 on Saturday, are holding on to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“We’ve got to go on,” interim coach Mike Woodson said. “He’s a big piece to our puzzle and what we were doing as of late, before he went out.”
Lin’s knee isn’t Woodson’s only injury concern.
Forward Amare Stoudemire is currently sidelined by a bulging disk in his lower back.
“When I come back I’ll be stronger than I ever was and a better player,” Lin vowed at a press conference prior to the game against the Cavaliers.
However, he added that it was a bitter blow to be sidelined as the lockout-shortened season draws to a close.
“This happening now hurts,” Lin said. “All the players, we really put our heart and soul into the team and into the season, and to not be there at the end when it really matters most, is hard.”
The 23-year-old Lin was an NBA unknown when he shot to prominence in February, getting the starting nod from then-coach Mike D’Antoni and energizing a flagging Knicks team.
Lin, who was born in California to parents from Taiwan, became an international sensation as the first American of Chinese or Taiwanese descent to play in the NBA.
He said last week that he’d felt pain in his knee after the Knicks played a stretch of four games in five nights and he had missed three games before Saturday’s announcement.
Lin, who graduated from academically oriented Harvard University, rather than one of America’s college basketball powerhouses, was cut by two NBA clubs before getting his chance with the Knicks.
He produced the most points and assists of any NBA player in their first 10 starts since 1976.
His high-scoring games, last-second heroics and precise passing helped the Knicks win seven games in a row upon his arrival, sparking the phenomenon dubbed “Lin-sanity”.
The Knicks’ progress since has not been smooth, however. Another slump cost D’Antoni his job, with Woodson stepping in as interim coach for the remainder of the season.
In 35 games this season, Lin averaged 14.6 points and 6.1 assists.
“I had an MRI after the Detroit game on Monday and it showed I had a lateral meniscus tear, so our goal was to give it about five to seven days to see how it would react and to see if I could play on it for the rest of the season,” Lin said.
Lin said he had avoided discussing the injury as he tried to see if he would be able to play with it for about a month.
“Today was the one-week mark, so this morning I got on the court to see how it would feel and that’s why I haven’t been able to really talk about this injury until now because the decision was made this morning,” Lin said.
“So, I can’t really do much, I can’t really cut or jump so it’s pretty clear that I won’t be able to help the team unless I get this fixed right now.”
Woodson said the Knicks would just have to cope without Lin. Both he and the player said the injury isn’t career-threatening.
“But it is a big blow,” Woodson said. “He was starting to come as a player. It’s not a career-ending injury. Plenty of people play with meniscus problems. You have to eventually have surgery when it happens.” – Agence France-Presse