Lifestyle & Belief

Jeremy Lin on leaving Knicks: "Honestly, I preferred New York"


Jeremy Lin at Madison Square Garden on February 10, 2012 in New York City.


Chris Chambers

Jeremy Lin may be a Houston Rocket, but the 23-year-old global superstar says his heart still lies in New York.

The Knicks let their most popular player in a decade go Tuesday afternoon after deciding not to match the $25.1 million offer sheet Lin signed with the Rockets, The New York Times reported.

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"Honestly, I preferred New York," Lin told Sports Illustrated on Wednesday. "But my main goal in free agency was to go to a team that had plans for me and wanted me. I wanted to have fun playing basketball. ... Now I'm definitely relieved."

The Taiwanese-American sensation said his tenure with the Knicks ended with a 30-second phone call from New York's general manager Tuesday night.

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"We wanted to keep you, but it couldn't work out. Tell your family I say hello, and good luck the rest of the way," Lin quoted General Manager Glen Grunwald as telling him.

The team's top executives aren't talking about the deal.

But the New York Daily News reported that both money and emotions played a role. Knicks owner James Dolan apparently felt "betrayed" that the second-year point guard out of Harvard went back to the Rockets for more money, and the team was upset that he had hired a publicist without their consent.

For seven weeks this past winter, Lin's electrifying and often unselfish play created a fan and media frenzy. New York tabloids and others dubbed the phenomenon as "Linsanity," "Linspirational," "Linflation" and Lin as "Mr. Lincredible" and "Super Lintendo."

For all the fanfare, though, Lin only started 25 games -- averaging 18.2 points and 7.7 assists a game -- and a knee injury in late March sidelined him for the rest of the season.