Caught in the Web Indiana Pacers blog: Like everyone else, Amundson stunned by Lin-sanity

Lin-sanity takes Amundson, and everyone else, by surprise

Feb. 12, 2012

Knicks fans show their appreciation for sudden superstar Jeremy Lin. (NBAE/Getty Images)

As a former teammate of the hottest property in the NBA right now, Lou Amundson wishes he could say he saw this coming. Alas, like everyone else, he did not see any indications of the onset of Lin-sanity.

"To be honest with you, this is just out of nowhere," Amundson said. "I am just as completely surprised as everybody else is. I'm happy for him but I can't even believe it."

The man in question, Jeremy Lin, has taken the league by storm with one of the most stunning, surprising eruptions in history. A player that received no scholarship offers out of high school and was undrafted out of college, Lin's sudden stardom is one of the most unlikely developments in sport.

In leading the Knicks to a five-game winning streak, saving their season in the process, Lin has averaged 26.8 points and 8.0 assists while shooting .516 from the field. In his first three starts he amassed 89 points, the most by any player since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976.

Along the way he scored 38 to outgun Kobe Bryant in a 92-85 victory over the Lakers on Friday, and then followed up with 20 points and eight assists against fellow point guard sensation Ricky Rubio in a 100-98 victory over Minnesota Saturday.

Mix into the equation the absences of Knicks stars Carmelo Anthony (groin) and Amar'e Stoudemire (whose brother was killed in an auto accident last Monday) and the Knicks' success behind Lin becomes even more remarkable.

"You don't see it happen a lot," Pacers General Manager David Morway said. "It's the right system for him. Coach (Mike) D'Antoni has showed a lot of confidence in him, he's playing with a lot of confidence right now and he's a talented young man. From what I understand, both Golden State and Houston liked him but the situations weren't right. In New York, for whatever reason, they gave him an opportunity and he's taken advantage of it."

Pacers fans have the opportunity to witness this phenomenon on March 17, when the Knicks make the first of two visits to Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The second comes April 3.

Amundson and Lin were teammates in Golden State last season. Lin appeared in just 29 games, averaging 2.6 points and shooting .389. He was sent to the D-League three times. The Warriors waived him on the first day of camp this season. Houston picked him up for 12 days, then dropped him. Desperate for help at point guard, the Knicks claimed Lin on Dec. 27.

Not exactly the type of career arc that foreshadows superstardom.

"He didn't play hardly at all," Amundson said. "He would get limited minutes. He played well but a lot of it I guess is when you get the opportunity to play in a system like D'Antoni has, you get the green light and the freedom to go out there and just play free. That gives you a lot of confidence and to his credit he has really seized the opportunity and made the most of it. I'm thrilled for him but I'm just surprised. I mean, I can't hardly believe it."

Until now, Lin's primary claims to fame were his ancestry -- he is the first American player of Taiwanese or Chinese descent to play in the NBA -- and his Harvard education. When he made the Warriors' roster last year he became the first Ivy Leaguer since Chris Dudley and the first Harvard product since Ed Smith (1954).

The only glimpse into the future came two years ago when, playing for Dallas' summer league team, he stole the spotlight from No. 1 pick John Wall by scoring 13 points in their first matchup. The Mavs had no roster spot for him but a handful of teams showed interest. Lin grew up in the Bay Area and signed with his hometown Warriors.

Nothing along the way indicated any possibility of what has happened in the past week.

"It feels like a dream almost, it's surreal watching those games and watching him perform that way on a big stage in New York against the Lakers, against Kobe," Amundson said. "That's about as big a stage as you can get and he's the best player on the floor. It was just, I'm thrilled for him but I'm kind of in shock right now.

"That's the thing about sports: you never know."

Follow @conrad_brunner on Twitter