Lin flourished in D'Antoni's offense, and there was immediate speculation he would struggle — or even lose his starting spot — when Woodson replaced him on March 14. Instead, Lin kept on rolling, leading the Knicks to six wins in seven games before he was hurt.
Woodson said he's known of players that have played through meniscus tears, but that only Lin knows his body. Lin knew he would need surgery eventually, but hoped to delay it until after the season.
"He's elected to have the surgery and we've got to respect that, because only he knows the pain that he's feeling. And there is a problem, so it's got to be fixed," Woodson said.
The Knicks had already tried three point guards when they finally turned to Lin, who had been cut by Golden State and Houston before signing with the Knicks. D'Antoni immediately elevated him to the starting lineup after his performance against the Nets, and Lin responded with the greatest beginning stretch ever for a starter.
He was the first player with at least 20 points and seven assists in each of his first five starts since the Elias Sports Bureau began charting starts in 1970. He had a 3-pointer to win a game in Toronto, scored 38 points to outplay Kobe Bryant in a national TV victory over the Lakers, then had 28 points and 14 assists in another nationally televised victory over the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks.
All along, the frenzy around him increased. Commissioner David Stern said he had never seen so much interest created by one player in such a short period of time. Knicks games were picked up by TV stations in basketball-crazed Asia, and Lin actually pleaded for privacy for his family in Taiwan.
Lin will be a free agent after the season and said he hopes to return to New York, but otherwise wasn't thinking that far in the future.
"I'm not even worried about that right now," he said. "It's not like a career-ending thing or it's not something that will bother me. Once it's fixed, it's fixed, it's the most simple surgery you can have and so I'm more concerned about the season."
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