Madison Square Garden didn't make Jeremy Lin a star but the famous building did serve as the stage where the undrafted Ivy League point guard experienced a breakout season and become the feel-good story of the NBA.

"When I think about last year," Lin says, "the first thing I think about is playing in the Garden."

Lin returns home on Monday as he makes his first visit to MSG since the Knicks elected not to match the free-agent contract Lin received from the Houston Rockets last July. The controversy over Lin's departure — Garden chairman James Dolan was upset that Lin went back to the Rockets to have his offer increased — could result in some backlash from fans when Lin is introduced.

Mostly, Lin is expected to receive positive feedback from a fan base that was mesmerized by the phenomenon known as "Linsanity."

"It will be wild," Lin said told the Houston Chronicle. "It will be fun. I don't really know what will happen, exactly.

We're going to go out there as a team. It's not about me or any individual. I'm going to go out there and try to play as hard as I can, have some fun. Whatever the crowds are like, I'm sure there will be a lot of energy."

The Garden will be sold out and the Knicks, who lost to Lin and the Rockets last month in Houston, should be closer to full strength. Carmelo Anthony missed Saturday's win over Cleveland with a sprained left ankle and sore left knee and there is a possibility the team's leading scorer will be available.

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