Out of nowhere, a loud commotion came out of the Lakers’ player lounge.
Then, Lakers forward Metta World Peace opened the door and threw his hands up in the air.
“Linsanity!” World Peace gushed,.
World Peace and his Lakers teammates had just watched Jeremy Lin hit a game-winning three-pointer at the top of the key with a half second to play, lifting the New York Knicks to a regular season win against the Toronto Raptors. At the time, Lin’s game winner marked his sixth consecutive game in which he scored at least 20 points. It also lifted the Lakers’ spirits nearly 3,000 miles away.
“Everybody was; it wasn’t just me,” World Peace said. “It was the whole team. We were like wow. Everyone was riding the wave. We were really excited. I’m happy for him.”
This conversation came up as the Lakers play a game tonight at Staples Center against the Houston Rockets, whom Lin joined this offseason and signed a three-year, $25 million contract. Other scenery has changed, too. For one, Mike D’Antoni has become the Lakers’ head coach less than a season after resigning from New York in the middle of the season.
World Peace and D’Antoni still remain nostalgic about the storyline “Linsanity” produced, but for different reasons.
World Peace, who has a Filipino son, loved how Lin became one of the few Asian Americans to breakout in the NBA.
“I played a lot against Asian Americans on the basketball court in America, especially in New York City,” World Peace said. “I got a lot of Asian American friends. There are a ton of Asian Americans playing on the basketball court. To see one make it was amazing. That was really amazing …
It was something new. You see black guys all over the place. Who cares?”
D’Antoni simply appreciated Lin’s breakout campaign extended his job security. It also provided a vivid example on determination and hard work paying off. After graduating from Harvard, Lin struggled landing on an NBA roster, including the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets. Lin’s emergence with the Knicks soon changed the Rockets’ mind.
“The biggest thing it meant to me is that it leaves me with an unbelievable memory of two weeks that were incredible,” D’Antoni said Saturday. “I don’t care what sport, what walk of life — to be able to experience that, feel the bond with those guys that were doing it.”
“It gives me more confidence as a coach. “Because you can waver. You can take some hits. You start doubting things. But Jeremy put everything back in order, and it makes me go forward.”
That moment has since moved on too, but the memories remain fresh for World Peace and D’Antoni.
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter.