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Jeremy Lin Injured: Knicks Point Guard To Get Knee Surgery For Meniscus Tear

Jeremy Lin Injury Knicks

First Posted: 03/31/2012 6:35 pm Updated: 03/31/2012 8:17 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — Jeremy Lin will have left knee surgery and will miss six weeks, possibly ending his amazing breakthrough season.

The New York point guard had an MRI exam this week that revealed a small, chronic meniscus tear.

With the regular season ending April 26, the biggest story in basketball this season is probably done unless the Knicks make a deep playoff run.

He was barely holding on to a place in the NBA back in February. Now, after the back-to-back Sports Illustrated covers and popularity around the world, he has to go back to the bench when he wants to play most.

"If this was done very early in the year, obviously ... I don't know where my career would be. I could be, would be definitely without a job and probably fighting for a summer league spot," Lin said Saturday. "But having said that, this happening now hurts just as much, because all the players, we really put our heart and souls into the team and into season, and to not be there when it really matters most is hard."

The Knicks will continue to turn to Baron Davis in place of Lin, the undrafted Harvard alum who became the starter in February and turned in a series of brilliant performances, kicking off a phenomenon that was called Linsanity.

Lin is averaging 14.1 points and 6.1 assists, but the numbers only tell a small part of the story.

The Knicks were under .500 and looking like a mess when Lin was given a chance to play extended minutes at point guard for then-coach Mike D'Antoni on Feb. 4 against New Jersey.

Lin, the first American-born player of Taiwanese or Chinese descent to play in the NBA, scored 25 points with seven assists in that New York victory, was inserted into the starting lineup two days later against Utah, and took the Knicks on a seven-game winning streak that gained world-wide attention.

Lin left the Knicks' easy victory over Detroit last Saturday, saying afterward he could have returned for the fourth quarter if the game had been close. He took part in shootaround before their game Monday and believed he could deal with the pain.

Though the swelling went down, the pain never did, and after testing it again Friday and Saturday, he decided to have the surgery.

"I can't really do much. Can't really cut or jump, so it's pretty clear that I won't be able to help the team unless I get this fixed right now," Lin said before the Knicks played Cleveland. "It's disappointing for me, it's hard to watch the games and I think I'd want to be out there obviously more than anything right now. But hopefully, it's a six-week rehab process but I tend to heal fast, so hopefully I can come back as soon as possible and still contribute this season hopefully."

It's the second serious injury loss of the week for the Knicks, who are fighting for a playoff spot. Amare Stoudemire is out two to four weeks with a back injury, leaving the Knicks without their second- and third-leading scorers for perhaps the remainder of the regular season.

Davis still isn't 100 percent after a herniated disk in his back kept him out of action until February. The Knicks also have Mike Bibby and Toney Douglas, plus rookie Iman Shumpert as point guard options, but none as good as Lin.

"We've got to go on, but he's a big piece of our puzzle and what we were doing as of late before he actually went out," interim coach Mike Woodson said. "All's not bad. Again, we've got three veteran point guards sitting over there and the rookie we could play some at the point. We're just going to have to make do until he's able to get back into uniform. But it is a big blow."

Lin flourished in D'Antoni's offense, and there was immediate speculation he would struggle — or even lose his starting spot — when Woodson replaced him on March 14. Instead, Lin kept on rolling, leading the Knicks to six wins in seven games before he was hurt.

Woodson said he's known of players that have played through meniscus tears, but that only Lin knows his body. Lin knew he would need surgery eventually, but hoped to delay it until after the season.

"He's elected to have the surgery and we've got to respect that, because only he knows the pain that he's feeling. And there is a problem, so it's got to be fixed," Woodson said.

The Knicks had already tried three point guards when they finally turned to Lin, who had been cut by Golden State and Houston before signing with the Knicks. D'Antoni immediately elevated him to the starting lineup after his performance against the Nets, and Lin responded with the greatest beginning stretch ever for a starter.

He was the first player with at least 20 points and seven assists in each of his first five starts since the Elias Sports Bureau began charting starts in 1970. He had a 3-pointer to win a game in Toronto, scored 38 points to outplay Kobe Bryant in a national TV victory over the Lakers, then had 28 points and 14 assists in another nationally televised victory over the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks.

All along, the frenzy around him increased. Commissioner David Stern said he had never seen so much interest created by one player in such a short period of time. Knicks games were picked up by TV stations in basketball-crazed Asia, and Lin actually pleaded for privacy for his family in Taiwan.

Lin will be a free agent after the season and said he hopes to return to New York, but otherwise wasn't thinking that far in the future.

"I'm not even worried about that right now," he said. "It's not like a career-ending thing or it's not something that will bother me. Once it's fixed, it's fixed, it's the most simple surgery you can have and so I'm more concerned about the season."

PHOTOS: Jeremy Lin, From Palo Alto To New York
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  • Palo Alto guard Jeremy Lin, center, celebrates with teammates Steven Brown, left, Cooper Miller, and Brian Karvaries, right, after Palo Alto beat Mater Dei of Santa Ana in the boys' Division II CIF state basketball championship game in Sacramento, Calif., on Friday, March 17, 2006. Palo Alto won 51-47. (AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

  • Mater Dei of Santa Ana's Kamyron Brown, center, tries to drive between Palo Alto's Jeremy Lin, left, and Kheaton Scott during the third quarter of the boys' Division II CIF state basketball championship game in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, March 17, 2006. Palo Alto defeated Mater Dei 51-47. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

  • Palo Alto guard Jeremy Lin, right, runs into Mater Dei of Santa Ana defender Alex Jacobson while driving to the basket during the second half of the boys' Division II CIF state basketball championship game in Sacramento, Calif., on Friday, March 17, 2006. Palo Alto won 51-47. (AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

  • Stanford's Anthony Goods (4) drives against Harvard's Jeremy Lin in the first half of a basketball game Friday, Nov. 9, 2007, in Stanford, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

  • UC Santa Barbara's Alex Harris (12) drives against Harvard's Jeremy Lin (11) in the first half of a basketball game Saturday, Nov. 10, 2007, in Stanford, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

  • Harvard's Jeremy Lin (11) keeps the ball away from Michigan's Manny Harris (3) in the second half of a basketball game Saturday, Dec. 1, 2007, in Boston. Harvard won 62-51. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

  • Harvard's Jeremy Lin, left, takes a shot against Michigan's DeShawn Sims (34) in the second half of a basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2007, in Boston. Harvard won 62-51. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

  • In this Jan. 7, 2009, file photo, Harvard's Jeremy Lin (4) drives for the basket in front of Boston College's Rakim Sanders during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Boston.

  • Harvard's Jeremy Lin, left, drives past Connecticut's Gavin Edwards during the second half of Connecticut's 79-73 victory in their NCAA college basketball game in Storrs, Conn., on Sunday, Dec. 6, 2009. Lin scored a game-high 30 points with nine rebounds and Edwards scored 12 points with five rebounds. (AP Photo/Fred Beckham)

  • Connecticut's Jerome Dyson, right, has his shot blocked by Harvard's Jeremy Lin during the second half of Connecticut's 79-73 victory in their NCAA college basketball game in Storrs, Conn., on Sunday, Dec. 6, 2009. Lin scored a game-high 30 points with nine rebound and Dyson scored a team-high 24 points with 14 rebounds. (AP Photo/Fred Beckham)

  • In this Dec. 9, 2009, file photo, Harvard's Jeremy Lin (4) drives by Boston College's Biko Paris, left, during the first half of an NCAA basketball game in Boston.

  • Harvard's Jeremy Lin, right, dives for the ball as Boston College's Corey Raji (11) tries to control it during the second half of an NCAA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2009. Harvard won 74-67. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

  • Georgetown's Austin Freeman (15) shoots the ball against Harvard's Jeremy Lin (4) and Christian Webster (1) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2009, in Washington. Georgetown won 86-70.(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

  • Georgetown's Chris Wright, left, battles for the ball with Harvard's Jeremy Lin, right, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2009, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

  • Harvard's Jeremy Lin (4) goes to the basket as Georgetown's Greg Monroe (10) defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2009, in Washington.

  • Dallas Mavericks' Jeremy Lin wipes his face during an NBA Summer League basketball game against Milwaukee Bucks' in Las Vegas on Monday, July 12, 2010.

  • Dallas Mavericks' Jeremy Lin, shoots a free throw during an NBA Summer League basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks in Las Vegas on Monday, July 12, 2010. (AP Photo/Laura Rauch)

  • Dallas Mavericks' Jeremy Lin tries to shoot over Milwaukee Bucks' Dominic James as Milwaukee's DeMarcus Nelson, left, looks on during an NBA summer league basketball game in Las Vegas on Monday, July 12, 2010.

  • New Golden State Warriors guard Jeremy Lin poses with his parents, Gie-ming, right, and Shirley, left, during a news conference at the NBA basketball team's headquarters in Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, July 21, 2010. Lin was an undrafted free agent from Harvard, and is a Bay Area native.

  • New Golden State Warriors guard Jeremy Lin spins a basketball during a news conference at the NBA basketball team's headquarters in Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, July 21, 2010. Lin was an undrafted free agent from Harvard.

  • NBA player of the Golden State Warriors, Jeremy Lin spins a basket ball during a press conference, Wednesday, July 28, 2010, in Taipei, Taiwan.

  • Golden State Warriors' Reggie Williams, left, interviews teammate Jeremy Lin during the NBA basketball team's media day in Oakland, Calif., Monday, Sept. 27, 2010.

  • Golden State Warriors' Jeremy Lin, left, looks to pass away from Portland Trail Blazers' Raymond Sykes (25) during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game Monday, Oct. 18, 2010, in Oakland, Calif.

  • Golden State Warriors point guard Jeremy Lin (7) against the Los Angeles Clippers in an NBA basketball game in Oakland, Calif., Friday, Oct. 29, 2010. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

  • Golden State Warriors center David Lee (10), right, jokes with point guard Jeremy Lin (7) as Lin replaces Lee in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers in Oakland, Calif., Friday, Oct. 29, 2010.

  • Los Angeles Lakers power forward Lamar Odom (7) left, and Golden State Warriors point guard Jeremy Lin (7) battle for the ball during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles , Sunday, October 31, 2010. The Lakers won 107 to 83.

  • Denver Nuggets point guard Anthony Carter (25) guards Golden State Warriors point guard Jeremy Lin (7) in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oakland, Calif., Monday, Nov. 22, 2010. Denver Nuggets defeated the Golden State Warriors 106-89.

  • Golden State Warriors point guard Jeremy Lin (7) watches the Warriors lose to the Denver Nuggets in an NBA basketball game in Oakland, Calif., Monday, Nov. 22, 2010. Denver Nuggets defeated the Golden State Warriors 106-89.

  • Golden State Warriors point guard Jeremy Lin (7) against the Sacramento Kings in an NBA basketball game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, April 10, 2011. The Kings won 104-103.

  • Golden State Warriors point guard Jeremy Lin against the Denver Nuggets in an NBA basketball game in Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011.

  • Jerry West, right, shakes hands with Golden State Warriors guard Jeremy Lin, left, as Warriors center Ekpe Udoh looks on, before being introduced as a new member of the basketball club's Executive Board, in San Francisco, Tuesday, May 24, 2011. West, 72, will assist the Warriors' ownership group and represent the organization in a wide variety of team-related functions in his role with the club. The position will encompass various areas and responsibilities, ranging from basketball operations to business, sponsorship and marketing endeavors.

  • Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry, center, has the ball stripped by Jeremy Lin, left, and David Lee during a voluntary basketball practice session, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011, in Oakland, Calif.

  • Houston Rockets Media Day

    Houston Rockets' Jeremy Lin during their NBA basketball media day Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011, in Houston.

  • Houston Rockets' Courtney Lee (5) blocks a pass from New York Knicks' Jeremy Lin (17) in the second half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012, in Houston.

  • Detroit Pistons forward Austin Daye (5) defends against New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin (17) who looks to pass in the second half of their NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden in New York, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012.

  • New Jersey Nets' Deron Williams, right, drives to the basket against New York Knicks' Jeremy Lin during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, at Madison Square Garden in New York.

  • New York Knicks' Jeremy Lin, left, looks to pass the ball as he is guarded by New Jersey Nets' Deron Williams during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, at Madison Square Garden in New York.

  • New York Knicks' Jeremy Lin takes a shot during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the New Jersey Nets Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, at Madison Square Garden in New York.

  • New Jersey Nets' Jordan Williams (20) avoids foulingNew York Knicks' Jeremy Lin during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, at Madison Square Garden in New York.

  • New York Knicks' Jeremy Lin drives to the basket during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game New Jersey Nets Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, at Madison Square Garden in New York.

  • New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin reacts after hitting a basket during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the New Jersey Nets, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, at Madison Square Garden in New York. Lin led all scorers with 25 points as the Knicks defeated the Nets 99-92.

  • New York Knicks' point guard Jeremy Lin (17) shoots over Utah Jazz's power forward Paul Millsap (24) during an NBA basketball game on Monday, Feb. 6, 2012, in New York.

  • New York Knicks' point guard Jeremy Lin (17) drives the ball against Utah Jazz's point guard Earl Watson (11) during an NBA basketball game on Monday, Feb. 6, 2012, in New York.

  • New York Knicks' point guard Jeremy Lin (17) leaves the court with teammates after the Knicks defeated the Utah Jazz 99-88 in an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz on Monday, Feb. 6, 2012, in New York.

  • New York Knicks v Washington Wizards

    WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 08: Jeremy Lin #17 of the New York Knicks warms up before the start of the Knicks and Washington Wizards game at Verizon Center on February 8, 2012 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

  • New York Knicks v Washington Wizards

    WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 08: Fans of Jeremy Lin #17 of the New York Knicks hold up signs during the second half of the Knicks and Washington Wizards game at Verizon Center on February 8, 2012 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

  • New York Knicks v Washington Wizards

    WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 08: Jeremy Lin #17 of the New York Knicks drives to the basket against the Washington Wizards during the first half at Verizon Center on February 8, 2012 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

  • New York Knicks v Washington Wizards

    WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 08: Jeremy Lin #17 of the New York Knicks works the ball against John Wall #2 of the Washington Wizards at Verizon Center on February 8, 2012 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

  • New York Knicks v Washington Wizards

    WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 08: Jeremy Lin #17 of the New York Knicks celebrates with teammate Jared Jeffries #9 during the first half against the Washington Wizards at Verizon Center on February 8, 2012 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Lakers v New York Knicks

    NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 10: Jeremy Lin #17 of the New York Knicks drives for a shot attempt in the first quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers at Madison Square Garden on February 10, 2012 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Lakers v New York Knicks

    NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 10: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives in the second quarter against Jeremy Lin #17 of the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on February 10, 2012 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)

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