The sports world has been overrun with “Linsanity,” the fever for the New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin, whose 89 points set a record for the most points scored by a player in his first three NBA starts.

As the Associated Press reported:

He’s become an Internet sensation, increasing his Twitter followers from fewer than 10,000 to nearly 200,000 in the week since he’s taken over the starting job. More people have mentioned him on Twitter than LeBron James and his No. 17 Knicks jersey is the league’s top seller over the last eight days.

But before there was “Linsanity,” the 23-year-old American of Chinese and Taiwanese descent played for the Rockets, which claimed him from the Golden State Warriors on December 11. 

Needless to say, he wasn’t the same sensation here as he is in New York. Take, for instance, December 17’s pre-season game against the Spurs at the Toyota Center, where Lin went 0-1 with no points in two minutes of play. And the subsequent pre-season game on December 21 in San Antonio, where Lin went 3-3 with six points in six minutes of playing time.

Because the Rockets already had a surfeit of point guards (including budding superstar Kyle Lowry, the Rockets’ actual starter), the team decided to cut Lin on Christmas Day. (This also made room for center Samuel Dalembert.) 

“So much for the local spin that the Rockets know more about evaluating talent than everyone else,” the Houston Chronicle‘s Jerome Solomon hindsighted on Saturday, referring to Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s reputation for advanced statistical analysis and scouting technique. “They hit and miss too.”

As Solomon noted, Morey had addressed the topic head-on (albeit after a bit of prodding) via Twitter:

As the Chronicle‘s Jonathan Feigen further explained, Lin would have been buried on the bench, unable to take playing time from Dragic or Lowry, whereas on the injury-riddled Knicks, he’s now playing first-string. Wrote Feigen:

He was fortunate to land on a team desperate for anyone to play point guard, and even they sent him to the D-League. Word around the league spread that the Knicks were two days away from waiving Lin when he came off the bench a week ago, beginning this wild ride, and making his story even more remarkable if that’s possible.

Even so, Feigen concluded “the Rockets still should have kept him” as a bench player.

To add insult to Houston’s injury, Lin is close friends with Yao Ming.

“I talk to Yao after every game,” he said in the New York Daily News. “He’s taken me out to eat every time we’re in the same city. He’s obviously a role model and a big brother to me and we keep in touch all the time.”