Lin Excited for New Beginning
“(Jeremy) came to Los Angeles a week ago for his physical and we had a chance to visit in my office,” Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said. “The first thing I said to him when he sat down in my office was: “The third time is the charm.”
Lin spent the last two years as a member of the Rockets before the Lakers acquired the Harvard product, along with a future first-round pick and a 2015 second-round pick in exchange for the rights to Sergei Lischchuk. With L.A. having enough cap space, they were able to absorb his salary, while also maintaining cap flexibility for the future as Lin’s contract expires at the end of the season.
”I’m really excited to be a part of this organization and I’m seeing this as a new start, a fresh start,” Lin said.
After going undrafted in the 2010 NBA Draft, Lin had a strong showing at summer league with the Dallas Mavericks. Kupchak stated the Lakers offered him a contract, but so did the Golden State Warriors.
“We were negotiating with his representatives to bring him to Laker camp,” Kupchak said. “There was guaranteed money involved and it came to a point where it was the same as the Warriors. Jeremy, because of his roots in the Bay Area, chose the Warriors. So we missed out on him four years ago.”
When the Warriors waived Lin on the first day of training camp when the lockout was lifted for the 2011-12 season, the Lakers put in a claim. But based on record, the Houston Rockets were awarded the 6-foot-3 guard. He was, however, waived again before the season started on Christmas Day.
The Knicks then claimed the Harvard product off waivers. Injuries to a number of guards ahead of him on the depth chart opened up an opportunity for Lin, leading to the brief turnaround of a team that had lost 11 of 13 games.
Lin emerged on the NBA scene as a member of the New York Knicks with a 25-point, seven-assist performance off the bench against the then New Jersey Nets on Feb. 4, 2012.
Linsanity, as many people soon called it, was born.
Over his next five games – all starts – Lin tallied 136 points, the most by a player since the 1976 ABA-NBA merger. He recorded at least 20 points and seven assists in each of those contests as well, becoming the only player to do so since at least 1970. He guided that Knicks team to seven straight wins, mainly in the absence of Carmelo Anthony.
Perhaps his best game during that stretch came against the Lakers on a Friday night at Madison Square Garden when Lin dropped a career-high 38 points, plus seven assists.
During his senior year of high school, Lin led Palo Alto High to a 32-1 record and an upset of nationally ranked Mater Dei in the state title game.
Despite being named Northern California Division II Player of the Year, Lin did not receive a single athletic scholarship to play basketball at the collegiate level.
He instead attended Harvard University where he was named All-Ivy League Second Team during his sophomore season. The following year, Lin was the only NCAA Division I basketball player who ranked in the top 10 in his conference for points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage and three-point field goal percentage.
By the time his career was finished, Lin was the first player in the history of the Ivy League to record at least 1,450 points, 450 rebounds, 400 assists and 200 steals.
Speaking of the Ivy League …
Since 1979-80, there have been just 13 others players besides Lin hailing from the Ivy League to suit up in the NBA.
The list includes:
According to Basketball-Reference.com, Lin is one of four players who attended Harvard who have played in the NBA. The others are Wyndol Gray (1946-48, Boston Celtics), Saul Mariaschin (1947-48, Boston Celtics) and Ed Smith (1953-54, New York Knicks).
Lin excelled in the pick and roll orchestrating Mike D’Antoni’s offense in New York. In particular, he showed a knack for attacking and getting to the rim.
“My brand of basketball is attacking on the go, playmaking, I am a 0-100 player and I like to stay at 100,” Lin said. “I’m learning to have more composure and be more under control, but at the same time, be very aggressive. If you watch a Chris Paul or Tony Parker is they are always attacking but they are always under control.”
In a brief sample size with New York – 35 games – and during his first full season with Houston in 2012-13, Lin attempted nearly 40 percent of his field goals in the restricted area. That figure dipped to 34 percent last season, but his efficiency from the three-point line increased as he shot a career-high 35.8 percent.
In fact, Lin’s efficiency from beyond the arc has gone up each season.
2010-11: 20.0 percent
2011-12: 32.0 percent
2012-13: 33.9 percent
2013-14: 35.8 percent
“I think when I look back on not just this past year, but maybe the past two years, I think I’ve learned and grown a lot as a person and a basketball player,” Lin said.
Purple and Gold Everywhere
According to a 2010 census, Asians make up nearly 14 percent of the population in Los Angeles, but is one of the fastest growing ethnic groups.
And Lin is very well aware of how the fans will react when he suits up for his first game inside STAPLES Center. The unwavering support from the Asian community is something he welcomes.
“I’m no stranger to large Asian populations,” Lin said. “I’ve always said and I will always be grateful for their support, and I know how die-hard the fans can be and how supportive and enthusiastic they can be. That’s one thing I always appreciate is through the ups and the downs is the support of the Asian community.
While Lin was in Asia the last couple weeks, he also realized the magnitude of the Lakers global brand.
“It’s huge,” Lin said. “First, Kobe is an idol in Asia, obviously. Everything was red Rockets when I was first there. I came back, took my physical and everything was yellow. That was one thing I noticed. I was like: ‘Wow, that was fast.’”
A Fresh Start
For the 6-foot-3 guard from Northern California, the Linsanity era has been his defining mark during his brief four-year NBA career.
But he maintains he doesn’t want to recreate that moment, or live in the past. Rather he sees this opportunity with the Lakers to develop and grow into a more complete basketball player.
”My first year in Houston really taught me that,” Lin said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to be that player. Now, my goal is I’m not trying to be a player from the past. I’m trying to make history again. It’s not so much me trying to be something that happened beforehand. I’m looking to the future and trying to be a much better and bigger player than I was ever before.”
Despite a trying 2013-14 season for the Lakers, Lin is well aware of the expectations for Lakers fans. But playing in New York, in Houston and going through various stops in his career has prepared him. And he wholly embraces what he knows he can do as a player.
“I feel the least amount of pressure on my shoulders now than I ever have,” he said. “One thing I try to do is not let my circumstances dictate the pressure as a player. I don’t think I play well when I do put a lot of pressure on myself from an outside standpoint. I know what I want to accomplish as a player and what the right way to play is and as long as I do that, I can hold my head up high and be proud of myself.”
Jeremy Lin Introduced
Jeremy Lin was formally introduced at the Lakers practice facility on Thursday, answering questions from assembled media members about his NBA career thus far, his time in New York during Linsanity and playing with Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash.
Q: Opening statement:
Jeremy Lin: I’m really excited to be a part of this organization. For me I’m seeing it as a new start, a fresh start. It’s good to be back in the state of California. I was born in Torrance, not too far away from here. It’s definitely good to be back.
Q: On his last year with the Houston Rockets and what he learned:
Lin: It’s definitely been an up and down year for me. When I look back on not just this past year but maybe the past two years, I think I’ve learned and grown a lot as a person, as a Christian and as a basketball player. From the minute I stepped into Houston until now, I’m definitely a much more complete player. I’ve learned how to do a lot of things I maybe never had to do before, which is learning how to play off the ball, cutting and really challenging myself with some of the weaknesses I’ve had to improve on.
Q: On whether he thinks he can start for the Lakers during the 2014-15 season:
Lin: That’s a question that’s up for the coach. Right now, that’s obviously a question that can’t be answered. If you ask me, or I think if you ask any player, I think they’ll believe they’re capable of starting. If there’s anything I learned from this past year, it’s really not that much about who starts, but who finishes and how you play with the time you’re given. I think that’s one of the biggest things I learned this past year. But to answer your question, I believe I can start for an NBA team and help that team win. As a competitor, I would obviously love to, but that’s not me coming in saying I need this or that. I just want to be a part of the team.
Q: On if the trade triggered memories of his career high 38-point night against the Lakers at Madison Square Garden in Feb. 2012:
Lin: It hasn’t until I got asked like 500 questions about it in Asia the last three weeks. I didn’t think of that at all when I first heard about it, but I’ve replayed that game in my head a few times in the past couple weeks.
Q: On what kind of chemistry he expects to have with Kobe Bryant:
Lin: I think it’ll be great. I’ve had the opportunity to play with a few really great players in Carmelo Anthony, James Harden and now Kobe. I think I’ll be able to learn a lot from him. He’s been there, he’s done it and he’s won at the highest level. I’m just excited to be able to learn from him, to be honest, and how he approaches everything. I’ve developed my own structure and rhythm on how I approach the season and what my workouts look like, but I’d love to see what his look like as well.
Q: On if he’s been in contact with Kobe Bryant:
Lin: We’ve exchanged text messages and stuff. I was in Shanghai at the time, but we’ve talked a little bit here and there. The one thing he told me was: ‘We have a lot of work to do.’ I think that’s 100 percent accurate. As long as we come in with the mindset of really having to work and understanding we have to earn everything, I think we’ll be OK.
Q: On wearing No. 17:
Lin: Well, there are a couple reasons. I like No. 7 and that has a lot of meaning to me. That’s the number I came into the league with in summer league, but Xavier Henry is No. 7 here. No. 17 is a special number to me as well. I wore it in the D-League with the Reno Bighorns and I wore it in New York and I felt like that it was a good time to go back to that number.
Q: On how his perspective changed from starting in Houston in Year 1 to not starting in Year 2:
Lin: Because of my career, I went from not even thinking I was going to make it and play in an NBA game tomorrow to starting. It happened so fast. After my year in New York, I wanted to stay on that path and I wanted to be a starter and it was something I cherished. I really appreciated it because I was on the other end of getting cut and getting waived. I think I held onto it a little too tightly. What I learned this past year is starter or not starter, I just have to play the way I’m capable of playing and I have to play my style and brand of basketball and as long as I do that, I’ll be able to contribute and make plays and be on the court when it really, really counts.
Q: On what he noticed about the Lakers global brand overseas:
Lin: It’s huge. First, Kobe is an idol in Asia, obviously. It was all red Rockets when I was there. The minute I signed, got my physical, got back to Asia, everything was yellow. That was one thing I noticed. I was like: ‘Wow, that was fast.’”
Q: On the journey he’s experienced during his brief four-year career thus far and how it’s prepared him for this coming season in L.A.:
Lin: That goes back to one of the first comments I said earlier when I said I’m a more mature person. That’s one thing I’ve experienced is I’ve gone through the highs and lows of an NBA career, and I’ve done it in the spotlight. Going through New York has prepared me and given me a different perspective to be able to deal with everything that happened there, and going to Houston and settling down where there wasn’t as much as a spotlight and coming back to L.A. where there will be a bigger market and much bigger spotlight. Hopefully I’ll be able to handle it even better with each passing year. One of the biggest ways I want to handle it is to not let it affect how I play or not to think about it or feel pressured.
Q: On whether he remembers the speculation that Steve Nash would be playing in New York and now the opportunity of playing with Steve Nash:
Lin: I remember that vividly. I was like: ‘OK, if I get to play with Steve Nash or Jason Kidd, I would be extremely excited. They were kind of towards the end of their careers and I just thought there was so much I could learn from either of those two players. Now I have this opportunity. I can’t wait. I still remember him in Phoenix and he was 20 and 10 every night. I look forward to learning quite a few things from him.
Q: On what he most admires about Nash:
Lin: I would say when you think about players who have made the most with what they have, he has to be at the top of the list or near the top of the list. One of the things I wish I had gotten to do was play against him when he was in his prime, prime versus when I came into the league a little later. His footwork is amazing and his use of angles. You can’t really appreciate it until you try to guard him.
Q: On how he views his role with the team for the coming season with Nash’s uncertain health:
Lin: My approach won’t change. I don’t think my approach should ever change. It should be on attack mode all the time because that’s who I am as a player. Regardless of his health or anybody else’s health, I’m going to be on the attack. One thing I thought worked well for us in Houston is when Pat Beverley and I played together and I would love to play alongside Steve Nash too and be able to play with him as an off guard where the ball is constantly moving where he’s pushing the pace or I’m pushing the pace. I think that would be really fun.
Q: On what his style of play is like and whether he is trying to recreate that season he had in New York:
Lin: I’m not trying to relive that banner season. It’s been a huge weight off my shoulders. I’m not trying to recreate Linsanity or be that phenomenon that happened in New York. I just want to be myself more than ever. My brand of basketball is attacking on the go, playmaking and I’m a 0-100 player. I like to stay at 100 and I think that’s one of my weaknesses as a player at times. I’m learning to have more composure and be more under control, but at the same time, be very aggressive. I need to be under control but at the same time be aggressive. If you watch a Chris Paul or Tony Parker, they are always attacking but they are always under control. One thing I’ve worked on a lot in the summer is the floater. To be able to get in the lane and if you can’t get all the way to the rim, around 6-10 feet to throw up a floater and use change of pace to maybe score or get to a certain spot and create a play where you don’t need to force the issue.
Q: On what it will be like to play in front of such a huge Asian population in Los Angeles and how it will help him on the court:
Lin: I’m no stranger to large Asian populations. I played in San Francisco, New York, Houston and now Los Angeles. I’ve always said and I will always be grateful for their support, and I know how die-hard the fans can be and how supportive and enthusiastic they can be. That’s one thing I always appreciate is through the ups and the downs is the support of the Asian community.
Q: On when he got a handle on trying not to recreate Linsanity:
Lin: I would probably say my first year in Houston taught me that. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be that player. Now, my goal is I’m not trying to be a player from the past. I’m trying to make history again. It’s not so much me trying to be something that happened beforehand. I’m looking to the future and trying to be a much better and bigger player than I was ever before.
Q: On if he feels any pressure coming to Los Angeles to perform:
Lin: I feel the least amount of pressure on my shoulders now than I ever have. One thing I try to do is not let my circumstances dictate the pressure as a player. I don’t think I play well when I do put a lot of pressure on myself from an outside standpoint. I know what I want to accomplish as a player and what the right way to play is and as long as I do that, I can hold my head up high and be proud of myself.
Q: On if he enjoyed that Linsanity run while he was in New York:
Lin: It depends. I enjoyed some of the cool perks and fun things I was able to do. The GQ Magazine (shoot) and things like that, those are once in a lifetime opportunities. Then there’s a lot of the other stuff that I had never been exposed to and had to adjust to. I didn’t have as much privacy and people coming at my family, my friends and me and us learning and dealing with that. That’s something that’s made myself, my family, my teammates and my friends a lot stronger and I think that’s what prepared us for hopefully everything that’s going to happen in the future, and hopefully it’s prepared us for being able to play in a place like L.A. with such an incredible fan base and all the attention you garner from being a Los Angeles Laker.
Q: On whether he tried to emulate Kobe or Nash growing up:
Lin: I definitely didn’t try to emulate Kobe. His skillset is clearly different than mine. I don’t think I’ve ever shot a fade away jumper from the mid post ever. One of the things I watched with Nash is off foot layups, picking up a lot of his left-hand passing, the way he reads pick and rolls, the timing of his passes.
Q: On how he could see Kobe helping his mental approach to games:
Lin: I think one of the things the outside audience or the fans don’t get to see as much or appreciate as much out of every professional athlete is the mental side. I don’t think people fully understand how much of a mental game professional sports is, or sports in general. Anybody who wins and wins as much as he does definitely has a mental edge on everybody. That’s something I want to learn. Like I mentioned in my testimony, I think I’ve grown in a lot in that area. I want to say I’m a stronger Christian and through it all, to be able to deal with all of the pressures, the anxiety and what we have to go through.
Q: On his workout plans during the offseason and if his preparation changes at all knowing there is no coach in place for the upcoming year:
Lin: It doesn’t affect it too much. My trainer and I have our goals for me as a player, regardless of who the coach is. As we approach training camp more and more, I’ll start to be able to think and prepare more for what the team might look like or the style of play, but right now, we have our set of goals I’m trying to achieve and certain things I’m trying to get better at.
Q: On his dad’s love for basketball and coaching him at a young age:
Lin: I guess basketball coach could be a very loose term. I grew up playing with my dad and we loved playing together. But I wouldn’t call him fundamentally sound. I definitely learned to love the game through my dad and his favorite player was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.