- Jeremy Lin credited Mike D’Antoni for helping sustain his confidence during his “Linsanity” run eight years ago with the New York Knicks.
- Lin recalled having nine turnovers in a loss and D’Antoni calling him afterward to encourage him to keep turning over the ball if it meant he would play aggressively.
- Lin said D’Antoni “empowers” players and the support of the coaching staff helped him during the run.
It’s been eight years since Jeremy Lin’s incredible “Linsanity” run with the New York Knicks.
Lin became an international phenomenon over a three-week stretch when he took over the Knicks, leading them back into playoff contention while putting up All-Star level stats.
While Lin saved his job with the Knicks and possibly his NBA career with his breakout, he still remembers how crucial then-Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni was to inspiring the run and keeping his confidence afloat.
Lin was a guest on The Ringer’s “Winging It” podcast and said he’ll always support D’Antoni because D’Antoni, now the Houston Rockets head coach, “empowers” players. Lin recalled a phone call from D’Antoni after a loss that encouraged Lin to keep his head up.
“I remember I had one game where I had 9 turnovers and we lost,” Lin said. “I got a call from him after the game and he’s like ‘You alright?’ I’m like ‘Yeah.’ It was actually our first loss during the Linsanity stretch. So we had won seven straight and this was our first loss. And he was like, ‘Hey I just wanna call and let you know, next game, go ahead and get 20 turnovers.’ He’s like, ‘I want you to get 20 turnovers next game.’ He’s like, ‘Because if you get 20 turnovers, you’ll probably get 40 assists. I just want you going downhill all day, all night. Do not think once about your turnovers or stopping to attack. Just play through all of them.'”
During the 10-game stretch of Linsanity, Lin averaged 24 points and 9 assists per game, but turnovers were a constant struggle, as he gave up the ball an average of six times per game. Still, Lin said the encouragement of D’Antoni and his coaching staff kept him going.
“Again, that’s why I played so well. I had this coach that was empowering me, constantly in my ear telling me ‘Go, go, go. Trust your instincts.’ A big part of Linsanity was just being in that environment, being in a pick-and-roll system that’s suited my style, and having coaches around just being like, ‘Look, we trust you, we know that you’re gonna make the right play more times than you won’t. Let it fly.'”
Lin has bounced around the NBA since the 2011-12 season with the Knicks, playing for six teams in seven years. He’s averaging 10 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 assists coming off the bench for the Atlanta Hawks this year.
Lin said on the podcast that he knew his NBA future was in doubt during the 2011-12 season. He had been cut from teams twice before, and the deadline for final rosters was a week after his first breakout game with the Knicks.
“By the time Linsanity came around, I was already, like, back against the wall, like, ‘If I’m going out, I’m doing it my way and swinging for the fences,'” Lin said.
“You did that,” co-host and Hawks teammate Kent Bazemore said.
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