Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Updated: February 22, 1:57 PM ET
Jeremy Lin talks to Kris Humphries
By Mike Mazzeo
Special to ESPNNewYork.com
Following Monday's game between the teams at the Garden, New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin told New Jersey Nets power forward Kris Humphries that he doesn't understand why Knicks fans boo Humphries and said he wanted him to know that he respects his game.
"I saw him in the tunnel outside the locker room after the game," Humphries said during a Tuesday afternoon appearance on ESPN Radio's "The Scott Van Pelt Show."
"He's a really nice guy," said Humphries, who met Lin at an autograph signing in Los Angeles at the All-Star Game last year. "He just said, 'Hey, I don't know why they boo you, but I think it's crap, and you're playing really well.' That was nice of him to say. He's a really nice guy. ... It's nice to see great things happen for nice people."
Humphries began getting booed vociferously by Knicks fans during a Dec. 21 preseason game at the Garden. Their ire is driven by Humphries' 72-day marriage to reality star Kim Kardashian, which was viewed by many as a money-making sham.
On Monday night, Humphries shook off the boos, though, scoring 14 points and grabbing 14 rebounds as the Nets snapped a five-game losing streak to their hated rivals. Humphries was seen giving Knicks fans the "Shhh!" sign with his finger and also kept his arm extended after hitting a free throw as he ran back down the floor.
"I love the hostile environment. There's nothing better than sending 19,000 people home upset [Monday] night at the Garden. We love that," Humphries said. "People are getting rowdy -- whether they're booing me or not -- but to get a win like that felt great, and sometimes you've just gotta mess with the crowd back."
The 27-year-old is currently enjoying the most productive season of his NBA career, averaging 13.6 points and 10.5 rebounds for the Nets (10-24).
"I think that sometimes the typical sports fan that comes to a game may not understand you, or kind of looks at you like, why are you doing this or that?" said Humphries, who has reiterated that he uses all the boos as motivation. "At the end of the day, it's about coming to the gym, and what you do on the court. And I think true basketball people respect guys that no matter what's going on in their life, they approach the game the same way, focus and play hard.
"People have been aggressive on the road, but they're not supposed to cheer for you on the road, so it's all good."
Many people were skeptical when it came to Humphries' game, wondering if it would suffer given his divorce. It hasn't.
"I always just say 'life happens, and you just roll with it,' " Humphries said.
"I devote a ton of time to basketball -- whether people see that or not. So when I come on the court, people gotta know that they're not getting cheated as a fan, especially at home. I'm out there well prepared and ready to do what I gotta do.
"I think that anytime you've got a lot going on in your life, people always wanna say, 'Hey, maybe this is more important than basketball, and he's distracted' ... [but] I don't ever want Coach [Avery] Johnson to come in and say, 'You look like you're not focused.' ... That's never gonna be me. I work every day to stay on top of my game so no one can ever accuse me of those things."
Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.