Dominating notoriety, lucrative endorsements and back to back Sports Illustrated covers served to make the sting in Jeremy Lin’s knee that much more painful. Lin, the zero to sixty point guard for the New York Knicks, is being sent back to the pine after a brief stop in the operating room.

The timing could have been worse. He could have required the meniscus surgery early in the year. Had that happened, it is quite likely that the majority of casual NBA fans might never have even heard of Jeremy Lin.

“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. “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 the season, and to not be there when it really matters most is hard.”

Then again, the timing could have been better. With momentum and public interest behind them, not in small part to Lin, the Knicks will have to reevaluate their game plan. The injury comes on the heals of the loss of Amare Stoudemire, who is out for up to four weeks with a back injury. This leaves the Knicks with the delema of how to put points on the board with their second and third-leading scorers most likely out for the rest of the season.

It’s not a career ending injury. It’s a chronic, small tear that happened at some point in the past. New York coach Mike Woodson has gone on record stating that he won’t be shopping for guards, so he obviously understands that point. That is very good news for the initially un-drafted Harvard graduate.

“We’ve got to go on, but he’s a big piece of our puzzle and what we’ve been doing as of late. All is not bad — we have three veteran point guards sitting over there — but we’ve just got to make do until he’s able to get back in uniform,” Woodson said. “But it is a big blow. He was starting to come as a player and it’s not a career-ending injury. Plenty of people play with meniscus problems. He’ll bounce back. We will anxiously await for him to get better.”

Lin has been playing with the injury for quite some time but had a recent flair of the problem against Detroit last Saturday. Lin left the game in the third quarter and did not return. He took part in a shootaround during this past week and had a re-evaluation at the end of this past week. His knee was no longer edematous, but the pain persisted. At that point, the decision was made to pursue a surgical treatment.

This radiographic image represents an example of a torn meniscus and is not meant to represent the injury sustained by Jeremy Lin

 

A meniscal tear can be career-ending, but that is not the way the majority of these injuries play out in the professional arena. The meniscal tear in Lin’s knee is reported to be chronic and mild. That being the case, the actual surgery should take less than 30 minutes. In addition to the surgical repair of the meniscus, the surgeon will most certainly spend a few minutes getting an internal view of Lin’s knee. Due to the chronic nature of the injury, the surgeon will be looking for additional pathology that may have developed due to the inflammation from the initial tear.  When it’s all said and done, this will hopefully be just a blip on Jeremy Lin’s career radar.

Whatever the outcome, it has been an exciting and unexpected ride for Jeremy Lin, the New York Knicks and NBA basketball fans everywhere.