Though many Knicks and NBA fans are disappointed utter LINsanity hit somewhat of a wall Friday night with the team's 89-85 loss to the Hornets, there's still plenty to be excited about in the land of the Knickerbockers.
The team has been busy the last couple of days, moving and grooving to start improvin', and actually received a bunch of exciting news along the way. Let's take a look at what has gone on in a jam-packed couple of days for the Knicks.
First things first, it's worth noting that the NBA just simply could not deny LINsanity from taking over NBA All-Star Weekend. Though Jeremy Lin's amazing rise to the top came too late for fans to have a chance to vote him in to the star-studded game, the league still made arrangements for fans to see plenty of him over the course of the weekend.
Perhaps propelled by Lin's remarkable play, Knicks rookie Iman Shumpert was selected to participate in the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest, and the rumor is that Lin will hope to help elevate his teammate to victory in the competition by providing some sort of flashy assist, ala Baron Davis to Blake Griffin in last year's contest.
But the LINsanity simply won't stop there. After much uproar, "Honorary Commissioner" of the Rising Stars Challenge, TNT Analyst Kenny Smith, added the Heat's Norris Cole to the contest, dramatically asserting Lin needed to fill a spot to then even out the rosters. This year's game has a bit of a different format, mixing rookies and sophomores to play with and against one another. The teams were divided up in a draft between former NBA superstars Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley. Though Lin was a late addition to the draft pool, Shaq selected him with his second pick (behind Blake Griffin). Team SHAQ later also drafted Landry Fields, keeping the Knicks' starting backcourt on the same contending team.
In searching for role(s) for Lin during the league's big weekend, it was rumored that he would compete in the Haier Shooting Stars Competition. Instead, Fields will represent the Knicks, forming the first "Team New York" ever in the contest, joining former Knicks' sharpshooter and current Assistant G.M. Allan Houston, as well as New York Liberty star Cappie Pondexter.
The Knicks didn't let the league make all the splashes with these ongoing exciting announcement, however. After much speculation, the Knicks made a big acquisition in the form of J.R. Smith. Smith signs with New York after having spent some time in China throughout the lockout. Props to my pal Tommy Dee for being first on the scene with this call for weeks now. In order to make room for Smith, the Knicks waived Renaldo Balkman.
Enough with all this breaking news--now it's time for some editorial opinion. Though Lin could not help the Knicks come up with another victory Friday, the fact is his impact on his teammates has been truly remarkable. In my latest contribution for The New York Times' NBA blog, "Off the Dribble," I examine Lin's fine play, pondering whether he can have the same effect on Amar'e Stoudemire moving forward. Check it out here.
Also from "Off the Dribble," an interview with Knicks Journal friend and recent NBA Hall of Famer, Brooklyn native Chris Mullin! Mullin admittingly plays a bit of "Monday Morning Quarterback," adding his thoughts on the trade that brought Carmelo Anthony to New York City, among other things.
With LINsanity rapidly spreading across the nation, my friends at Iowa State University's "The Sports Binge" had me on to talk all about Lin's rise to instant stardom, the Knicks' playoff hopes, and more. You can check out the interview in full right here.
Finally, to help Knicks fans lighten up their sprits following a tough loss, Howard Beck takes an in-depth look at the budding friendship between Jeremy Lin and Landry Fields. How nice!
When you're done reading all of these, perhaps it'll be time for the Knicks take on the Mavericks tomorrow at MSG!