HANG TIME, Texas — You didn’t really think Linsanity was over just because Jeremy Lin packed up his saddle and moved to Houston.
A week after Lin officially signed his three-year, $25.1 million contract with the Rockets, he’s still fighting off criticism that he bailed out on a Knicks team that gave him his first chance to shine.
In a conversation with Marcus Thompson II of the San Jose Mercury News, Lin admitted being stung by the criticism:
“It did kind of hurt,” Lin said. “I had to remind myself who I’m living for. Do I fear God or do I fear man? I know my actions, and I know I would change nothing if I could go back.”
Lin said he expected to — wanted to — re-sign with the Knicks. But the Rockets, who reportedly pegged him as a primary target, came after him hard. First, they agreed to a four-year, $28 million offer sheet, paying him about $9 million in each of the final two years. But by the time Lin arrived in Houston to sign the offer sheet, the Rockets — after reports the Knicks would match — had pulled the first offer and changed the deal. The new offer sheet was for three years, with a third-year salary of $14.8 million.
“I didn’t go back to them and ask for more money,” Lin said. “It wasn’t like they gave me the choice to sign one of the two and I chose the one that would hurt the Knicks. I had one contract offer. That was it.”
With no other offer on the table, Lin signed.
And the debate began about whether the Knicks should match, though that third year could cost New York upward of $40 million because of the NBA’s luxury tax. Many said Lin wasn’t worth it, that his hot streak was the result of a perfect storm he could never duplicate. Some who thought the Knicks could match the offer saw Lin more as a marketing tool than a player who could help them win.
Reports emerged about Lin having bailed out on the team by not playing hurt in the playoffs, about Knicks owner James Dolan feeling betrayed and deceived by Lin.
“I will always, always have doubters,” Lin said. “But I really want to reach my potential to bring glory to God. That is more motivation than haters and doubters. I want to work just as hard, give just as much, whether or not I have haters.”
Can’t we just leave the entire affair with Lin doing what every free agent has the right to do, getting the best deal for himself?
Can’t we just leave it with the Rockets doing absolutely nothing illegal or immoral, just writing a contract that gave them the best chance of landing their target?
Can’t we just leave it with the profligate Knicks for whatever reason — luxury tax implications, Dolan’s hurt feelings, the price of a hotdog in Times Square — choosing to let the best thing that has happened to them in years walk out the door for nothing?
Of course, we can’t. It is, after all, Linsanity.