Jeremy Lin appears destined to say good-bye to New York, and, already, critics are out to say good-riddance.
The Knicks still have until 11:59 p.m. Tuesday to match Houston's three year, approximately $25 million offer, but with the team's recent trade for Raymond Felton and the Rocket's "poison pill" of an offer, they are reportedly ready to let Lin walk.
That has sparked ESPN's Stephen A. Smith to label Lin as an avarice, a player "overcome by dollar signs" who let Linsanity change whom he was. But by focusing on villifying Lin, Smith fails to place the blame where it should lie most, owner James Dolan.
No one thought that Lin would be leaving New York a month ago, even a week ago. That was because Lin is a restricted free agent, and a source told ESPN's Marc Stein that the "(Knicks) will match any offer on Lin up to 1 billion dollars."
So with that power, Dolan decided to play games. The Knicks could have offered Lin four years, $24 million at the start of the offseason, and Lin may not have even sought other offers. But the management decided to let the market set Lin's value, assuming he wouldn't find a better offer, and a report surfaced last week that Lin felt slighted by this inaction.
To put $24 million in perspective, James Dolan and his father, Charles, made nearly $23 million in MSG Entertainment's stock price increase in just the first seven days of Linsanity. Add the profits from jersey sales and other revenue and the Dolan's had a nice return on a $762,195 investment.
Yet the younger Dolan still felt Lin owed him more for giving him the opportunity to start in the NBA. A source claims that the Knicks owner felt betrayed that Lin signed the Rockets' backloaded offer. That egocentricity might cost him an asset midnight on Tuesday with nothing in return.
Now the formerly Lin-sane and the natural haters may choose to remember Lin poorly. Stephen A., for one, wants fans to remember Lin not playing game five of the Heat-Knicks first-round series, a game Lin wasn't even medically cleared to play by team doctors.
And that may be what Dolan and his ilk want you to remember from this debacle: Lin, the ungrateful, the selfish, the one who refused to play at 85 percent.
As fans, we want the stars on our athletic teams to be gutsy, to be gamers. So great is that desire that we often augment the truth with what we want to believe.
In game seven of the 1970's final, Walt Frazier had 36 points, 19 assists and 7 rebounds, but that's not what the average fan remembers. He remembers how inspirational Willis Reed's walk on to court was. Very few remember he only had four points and very little tangible impact on the game.
Even fewer will remember that only 15 months ago, when the Knicks faced the Celtics in the opening round, Chauncey Billups was sidelined with a strained tendon in his left knee. And before game three, the Captain himself, Willis Reed, recommended that Billups sit out because "if he's only 85 percent, that's not going to be good enough."
There's that 85 percent again. Willis Reed wouldn't have played hurt in game five of a first-round series in which the Knicks were down three games to one. Stephen A. would have later grilled him for it. At least that's my presumption. And it's one I can easily make without a golden goose on the line.