- Last Updated: 10:40 AM, December 17, 2012
- Posted: 12:43 AM, December 17, 2012
There will be no Garden video tribute for Linsanity tonight. But it’s OK for the fans to give the struggling Jeremy Lin his own tribute — a nice ovation in his Garden return as a Houston Rocket.
Raymond Felton, Lin’s replacement, and Steve Novak, one of Lin’s best friends, have given their blessing.
It may even be OK to dust off the old No. 17 T-shirt/jerseys — for nostalgic purposes only. It’s OK to fondly remember the 48-day Linderella story weaved from Feb. 4 to March 24 — until Lin hurt his left knee against Detroit, forcing him to undergo left knee surgery.
That was the last time Lin played a game at the Garden. That is, until tonight as the 24-year-old starting point guard for the Rockets, who said after yesterday’s loss in Toronto he has been “terrible,’’ returns.
Meanwhile, the Knicks have moved on wonderfully with a Felton/Jason Kidd backcourt and a sensational 18-5 record.
“What Jeremy did was amazing, it was great,’’ said Felton, amidst his bounce-back season that has him a candidate for NBA’s Most Improved Player Award. “I’m happy for him. He got his money. He’s a starting point guard in Houston. I wasn’t coming in here trying to be him. I am who I am. I did some great things when I was here the first time, so he came in and what he did was amazing. I watched the games. He hit game-winners. He was amazing. But it’s time to move on. We’re 18-5, 10-0 at home. No need to talk about that no more.’’
Should Lin get a pregame ovation?
“By all means,’’ Felton said. “They should give him a standing ovation when he comes back here. Without a doubt. He deserves nothing but that — sure.’’
Then it’s time for payback. The Rockets whipped the Knicks, 131-103, on Nov. 23 in Houston — the Knick’s lone blowout loss.
“It was one of those games,’’ Felton said. “They got hot. We didn’t play our best game. We got beat. But they got to come to our building [tonight]. We’re going to be ready. You can believe that.’’
The Knicks, who should have Carmelo Anthony (ankle) back tonight, are amidst a 9-1 spree. They remain the NBA’s lone unbeaten team at home owning the East’s best record. Lin’s Rockets are a middling 11-12.
Lin has been barely adequate — averaging 10.8 points on 39.5 percent shooting, six assists, four rebounds.
Lin had one of his worst games yesterday — seven points on 3-of-9 shooting and two assists — and ripped himself afterward.
The Lin decision — not matching the Rockets’ 3-year, $25 million offer — is the rare Knicks move that has worked out big time for owner James Dolan.
“I think they’re going to give him a heck of an ovation,’’ Novak said. “I’d be shocked it if it was anything else. Unless everyone changed their mind. He’s one of those guys people will remember for his time here. It wasn’t a very long, long time, but it was special. He touched a lot of people who will be in the stands.
“There’ll be a movie about it one day,’’ added Novak, who said he wants to play himself.
Lin’s buddies on the Knicks were Novak, Tyson Chandler, Landry Fields, who gave up his couch the night before his breakout performance vs. the Nets, and reserve center Jerome Jordan.
Even this year’s Knicks media guide paid tribute to that historic Feb. 4 night against the Nets, calling it “the game that ignited the worldwide mania of Linsanity.”
“What Jeremy did last year was great,’’ Chandler said. “He brought a lot of excitement to the city and fans of New York. I think everyone appreciates what he did last year. It’ll be exciting for him. It’ll be exciting to beat him.
“He did an excellent job of bringing a lot of cheer and brought a lot of great vibes to the city and the arena. I had a fun time playing with him.’’
Lin, even if his agents steered him wrong, should get an ovation tonight in New York. Anthony, who fought Lin for control of the offense, may even join in.Follow @NYPostsports