|"Remember me? Because they'll never let you forget." (Getty Images)|
I don't know if you've ever heard of him, but Jeremy Lin is an Asian-American point guard who once exploded onto the NBA scene in a historic way with the New York Knicks. He's now the starting point guard for the Houston Rockets, and the Knicks -- who will visit Houston on Friday night -- really aren't thinking about him like they once did.
Felton is 28, four years older than Lin, but more significantly has a greater body of work in the N.B.A. In his eighth season, he has played in 544 regular-season games to Lin's 76, and he took note of that disparity when he was asked about Lin on Wednesday night.
“I don't see how anybody can compare us,” he said. “I've been in this league much longer. He had a great run last year, one of the best I've ever seen. I'm glad he got his money. But to compare me and him is wrong.”
To drive home the point, Felton said he could “care less” about how Lin was playing in Houston. “I don't even follow what he does,” he said.
“It was crazy and I was a part of it,” Anthony added, and noted that he had talked with Felton, who played in Portland last season, on just what the phenomenon known as Linsanity was like to experience firsthand. But he added, “We've moved on.”
J. R. Smith, who joined the Knicks when Linsanity was at its height, was as blunt as Felton as he looked ahead to Friday night. “I don't really care about Jeremy's situation,” he said. “He doesn't wear the Knicks uniform anymore.
“We have all the pieces we need. I love my team and the people we have around us.”
Linsanity was all the rage during the chaos of the lockout-shortened season. He revived a Knicks team that seemed stuck in the mud when trying to adapt their new system and their new star, Carmelo Anthony. Raymond Felton wasn't walking through that door (yet), Chauncey Billups wasn't walking through that door, and Steve Nash was not going to be a possibility. Who did walk through that door was an afterthought in the NBA.
Jeremy Lin wasn't really anything at the time. He was simply a body barely existing in the NBA. He wasn't a cultural icon. He wasn't a worldwide phenomenon. He wasn't an unexpected star for the league's biggest market. He exploded off the bench against the New Jersey Nets one night in January. After that night, he was named the starter at point guard by Mike D'Antoni.
It started a historic run as a new starter, which included a 38-point performance against the Los Angeles Lakers. Lin quickly swept the nation, became the topic of most NBA conversations and brought about a newer discourse about race in the NBA.
The Knicks claimed in the offseason that they'd match any contract up to $ 1 billion. They then surprised everybody when they refused to match the "poison pill offer sheet" from the Rockets. That allowed Lin to take over the point-guard job under Kevin McHale in Houston. The Knicks re-acquired Felton at that time and ended the Linsanity era in New York.
Since then, Lin has struggled to regain the same magic he had with the Knicks, while Felton's new team has been one of the best in the NBA. Friday night's game in Houston isn't going to be quite the same chaotic environment that we'll see when the Rockets visit Madison Square Garden on Dec. 17. However, we'll still have the possibility for plenty of drama as emotions and points to be proven run rampant at the Toyota Center.
For someone like Felton, who never had any direct comparison to Lin before he was selected by the Knicks to replace him at point guard, the questioning doesn't seem to make much sense. He has no reason to concern himself with the former Knicks guard. There are more awkward relationships at hand, like Lin and Melo. But even then, it's a bit of a forced story.
That won't stop the questions, though. They're going to continue to pour in over the next three to four weeks when the Knicks and Rockets meet twice.