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Jeremy Lin, whose playmaking finesse mesmerized New York Knicks’ fans after he sat on the bench for most of his National Basketball Association career, will miss the rest of the regular season after knee surgery.
Lin, 23, will have arthroscopic surgery to fix a small chronic meniscal tear in his left knee that flared up during the Knicks’ 101-79 victory over the Detroit Pistons on March 24. He will miss about six weeks, the team said.
“It is a big blow,” interim coach Mike Woodson told reporters before last night’s 91-75 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers at New York’s Madison Square Garden. “He was starting to come as a player.”
Lin and the Knicks tried to put off the surgery until the end of season. The injury, diagnosed by an MRI last week, didn’t respond to treatment.
“I can’t really do much, can’t really cut or jump,” Lin said at a news conference. “So it’s pretty clear that I won’t be able to help the team unless I get this fixed right now.”
Lin’s surgery has been scheduled although the date hasn’t been released by the Knicks, team spokesman Jonathan Supranowitz said in an e-mail.
Lin, an undrafted player who was cut by his first two NBA teams before signing with New York on Dec. 27, invigorated the Knicks on Feb. 4 when he came off the bench and scored 25 points in the victory over the New Jersey Nets.
Then-coach Mike D’Antoni gave him the nod as the Knicks struggled to overcome the absence of two of the team’s top scorers, Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire. Lin’s prowess on the court helped save the Knicks’ season with a seven-game winning streak.
Ticket prices to home games at Madison Square Garden tripled as fans got caught up in “Linsanity,” a term coined to encompass the excitement surrounding the first Chinese- or Taiwanese-American to play in the league.
His worn jerseys sold for as much as $42,388 at auction, while his rookie NBA card went for $21,580.
Sports retail outlets couldn’t keep his jerseys on the shelves. Even Madison Square Garden stock rose 16 percent from the day before Lin left the Knicks’ bench to reach a high of $34.33 on March 26.
The Harvard University graduate spurred record ratings on MSG Corp.’s MSG network. Two weeks after he started for the Knicks, the cable outlet ended a seven-week stalemate with Time Warner Cable Inc. that kept the provider’s 2.8 million New York- area subscribers from seeing the Knicks.
Since Lin’s game Feb. 4, the team has gone 16-10 through the Detroit game on March 24 when his injury put him out of action. The Knicks (27-26) own the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Besides Lin, the Knicks (27-26) are also without forward Amar’e Stoudemire who will miss two to four weeks with a bulging disk in his lower back. Stoudemire is averaging 17.6 points and eight rebounds a game.
Baron Davis will move into Lin’s spot on the active roster. The 33-year-old point guard is recovering from a herniated disk and a strained hamstring.
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