During the 2011-12 NBA season, Jeremy Lin’s 35 games, including 25 starts with the New York Knicks, was perhaps one of the most unexpected storylines in league history.
After going undrafted in the 2010 NBA Draft and nearly being waived for a third time that season, Lin was given an opportunity by then-Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni.
And in Lin’s first game, he recorded 25 points, seven rebounds and seven assists against Deron Williams. It officially marked the beginning of Linsanity.
However, before the Knicks took on the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant had ‘no idea’ about Lin or the hysteria that had developed around him.
Seven years later, Lin reflected on those comments and his mindset heading into their matchup at Madison Square Garden, via Yahoo! Sports Canada:
“I played against him multiple times in my rookie year, so I think he definitely should’ve know who I was. If anything, I stand out when I get onto the court; I don’t look like anybody else, so I think he probably remembered me. I just remember at that time, I think I had just past the guaranteed date, so I was still on my brother’s couch and taking taxis to the game. I jumped in a taxi, I was going to the game, and in New York they’ve got the taxis with the (TV) screen. And that’s where I saw it. So I was on the way to the game and they’re like, ‘Tonight’s matchup: New York Knicks versus Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe…’ and they showed the clip, ‘Kobe has no idea who Jeremy is.’ I looked at it and I was like, ‘That’s hella annoying.’ So this is where my mind goes, I’m always like daydreaming. So I’m like, I’m going to hit the game-winner and after the game-winner they’re going to be like, ‘Oh, so do you think Kobe knows who you are now?’ I didn’t hit a game-winner, but they did ask me that question after the gam, ‘Do you think Kobe knows who you are now?’ I went a little more P.C., had to bring out the soft voice, ‘You’re going to have to ask him.’ But that wasn’t what was going on in my mind. Kobe, years later we ended up on the same team so that’s all in the past. It’s actually a funny story.”
In his fourth career game against Bryant, Lin outscored him 38-34 while leading the Knicks to a 92-85 win. Interestingly enough, the two players eventually became teammates during the 2014-15 season.
Although the Lakers were in the middle of their rebuilding process, Lin had plenty of respect for his former teammate when Bryant retired the following season.