Jeremy Lin's astonishing break-out campaign with the New York Knicks has been cut short by a left knee injury that needs surgery, the National Basketball Association team said Saturday.
The Knicks said that Lin would be sidelined some six weeks "after an MRI revealed a small chronic meniscus tear" for which he will undergo an arthroscopic procedure.
That would have him missing the rest of the NBA regular season, which ends on April 26, and perhaps the first round of the playoffs -- if indeed the Knicks reach the postseason.
"When I come back I'll be stronger than I ever was and a better player," Lin said at a press conference prior to the Knicks' game Saturday against Cleveland.
However, he added that it was a bitter blow to be sidelined as the lockout-shortened season draws to a close.
"To not be there when it matters most is hard," Lin said.
The 23-year-old Lin was an NBA unknown when he shot to prominence in February, getting the starting nod from then-coach Mike D'Antoni and energizing a flagging Knicks team.
Lin, who was born in California to parents from Taiwan, became an international sensation as the first American of Chinese or Taiwanese descent to play in the NBA.
He said last week that he'd felt pain in his knee after the Knicks played a stretch of four games in five nights and had missed three games before Saturday's announcement.
Lin, who graduated from academically oriented Harvard University, rather than one of America's college basketball powerhouses, was cut by two NBA clubs before getting his chance with the Knicks.
He produced the most points and assists of any NBA player in their first 10 starts since 1976.
His high-scoring games, last-second heroics and precise passing helped the Knicks win seven games in a row upon his arrival, sparking the phenomenon dubbed "Lin-sanity".
The Knicks progress since has not been smooth, however. Another slump cost D'Antoni his job, with Mike Woodson stepping in as interim coach for the remainder of the season.
In 35 games this season, Lin averaged 14.6 points and 6.1 assists.
"I had an MRI after the Detroit game on Monday and it showed I had a lateral meniscus tear, so our goal was to give it about five to seven days to see how it would react and to see if I could play on it for the rest of the season," Lin said.
Lin said he had avoided discussing the injury as he tried to see if he would be able to play with it for about a month.
"Today was the one-week mark, so this morning I got on the court to see how it would feel and that's why I haven't been able to really talk about this injury until now because the decision was made this morning," Lin said.
"So, I can't really do much, I 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."