Jeremy Lin, once the darling of the NBA, relies on faith in God through struggles
In a speech for a Taiwanese Christian outlet, Jeremy Lin opened up about free agency frustrations.
SALT LAKE CITY — Jeremy Lin's basketball career — the one that brought "Linsanity" to the New York Knicks in 2012 — is reminiscent of a 1941 short story called “The Eighty-Yard Run.” Irwin Shaw opens with his protagonist, Christian Darling, snagging a pass toward the end of a college football practice and surging through defenders, smiling the whole way to the end zone. Everything that followed, Darling would recall, felt like the difference between fried dough and a glazed donut: The shower felt warmer; the trainers were unusually caring; the team captain told him he’s “going places.”
And reflecting on his life 15 years later, he realized it all tumbled downhill from there. The 80-yard run created a moment of such promise for Darling, but it turned out to be a blip in an otherwise standard existence.
In a New York Post article from Monday titled “Jeremy Lin’s NBA status keeps getting sadder,” Lin implies that in addition to the collapse of his NBA prospects, his basketball career's impending end has rippled into his psychology.
After riding the bench to an NBA title with the Raptors this season, Lin tweeted, “God is perfectly the same through the highs and the lows. Anyone who knows me knows Ive believed this through all the down times, and Hes just as good at the mountaintop (right now)!”
But this weekend, Lin delivered an emotional speech for GOOD TV, a Christian outlet in Taiwan.
“In English, there’s a saying: Once you hit rock bottom, the only way is up. But … rock bottom just seems to be getting more and more rock bottom for me,” Lin said. “And so free agency has been tough because I feel like the NBA has kind of given up on me.”
Lin also didn’t sound as chipper about his NBA title as his tweet suggested.
"After the season I had to get ready for this Asia trip and it was the last thing I wanted to do," he said. "Because I knew for six weeks I would have to just put on a smile. I would have to talk about a championship that I don't feel like I really earned. I would have to talk about a [basketball] future I don't know if I want to have. And honestly, it's just embarrassing. It's tough."
The speech urged viewers not to give up if they’re working hard without results. But his candid quotes depicted frustration. It’s worthwhile to put his frustration into perspective — Lin is a Harvard graduate who has made millions playing basketball. Nevertheless, he hopes his speech can help people in his psychological situation, millionaires or not.
Lin became a sensation during the 2011-12 NBA season. He was unremarkable through his first nine games with the New York Knicks.
That changed on Feb. 4.
In a matchup between the 8-17 New Jersey Nets and the 9-15 Knicks, Lin became the centerpiece: 25 points, seven assists, five rebounds.
The phenomenon became known as “Linsanity” because, led by Lin, the Knicks kept winning. On Feb. 10 against the Lakers, Lin scored 38 points — his career high.
The Houston Rockets offered him a three-year, $25 million contract that offseason. He was poised to be Houston’s main offensive threat. But when the Rockets traded for James Harden, Lin became secondary. He was still solid off the bench, but not as good as when he was going "Linsane."
In year two, his numbers took another small dip. The Rockets dealt him to the Lakers in the offseason, and his numbers dipped once more. Over the next four seasons, he’d play for Charlotte, Brooklyn (on a three-year, $36 million deal), Atlanta and, most recently, Toronto.
The New York Post's Brian Lewis summed up Lin's tragedy well in the first line of his story.
“Jeremy Lin,” he wrote, “is a long way from Linsanity.”
And perhaps it’s worth wondering whether Lin will someday — if he hasn’t already — reflect on Linsanity in the same way Darling reflected on his 80-yard run.