NEW YORK -- Kings head coach Keith Smart, who roamed Golden State's sideline last season with Jeremy Lin under his direction, was approached before the game with a head-scratching question: What were you thinking?
Of course, that meant why didn't Smart play the most talked-about athlete on the planet right now, a point guard who clearly has talent that was overlooked. Smart's answer was simple: Our backcourt was loaded.
"You've got to understand," Smart started to explain. "Was he going to start in front of Monta Ellis and was he going to start in front of Steph Curry? At that time, that wasn't going to happen. Let's just focus on where Jeremy Lin is right now. Right now, he's in a great spot for his life right now. Forget the past. We're both in good situations and we're moving forward."
It turns out, the 2010-11 season was the first and last for both Smart and Lin in Golden State. On whether or not Lin would've been a Warrior this season, Smart said "Maybe he would've been there." While he was addressing reporters before Wednesday night's game against the Knicks, Smart spoke about Lin like he was his starting point guard. He was visibly ecstatic about him, eyes lighting up, calling Lin "a good guy with a nice smile" and that "everything about him is just great."
Smart's been most impressed with how he's been able to handle the enhanced pressure on the court. He's aware defenses are starting to come at Lin harder to test him to see if he can handle the body contact and double teams. But Smart said that won't be a problem for him, after seeing how he battled back during Warriors practices.
"It doesn't bother him," Smart said. "You hear people talk about, 'Be more physical with him.' What does he do? He just gets up and plays. He gets banged around, he's falling on the floor. I would see that in practice. Our guys were real physical with him. Every day in practice, he's playing against Steph Curry, Monta Ellis, Reggie Williams and Acie Law. These guys really challenged him.
[Former Knick] David Lee, of course, would be real physical with him, going to the basket. The kid would just get up off the floor and play. So if you try to be physical with him, you think that's going to rattle him? It doesn't. He just has a drive that is incredible. You hope all your young players understand that. He's on his way for a lifetime career now because he's managing to master playing basketball in the mecca of basketball. He's playing very well."
You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter.