It’s a new chapter for both the Brooklyn Nets and point guard Jeremy Lin, and a welcome one for both parties.
This past season, the Nets suffered their worst season in the borough, managing only 21 wins and the third worst record in the league.
After stunning the NBA world with his stellar play in 2012 for the New York Knicks, the so-called “Linsanity” phenomenon, Lin hasn’t been able to find a permanent home. After signing a multi-year deal with the Houston Rockets, Lin’s play was inconsistent. He was then traded to the Los Angeles Lakers and struggled finding an identity. It was last year when he had a successful season with the Charlotte Hornets as a sixth-man.
After his successful 2015-16 campaign, Lin is coming back to New York, with a different team and expectations after signing a three-year, $36 million contract with the Nets.
“I take it one day at a time. I’m not going to sit here and say we are going to win X amount of games or our goal is the playoffs,” said Lin at the Nets HSS Training Center on Wednesday, July 20. “My goal is right now. You just put in the work you’re supposed to put in and surround yourself with people you enjoy going to battle with.”
Besides the contract, it was the opportunity to start that enticed Lin most. “That was a huge thing for me because I said in free agency that I wanted to see how great I could become,” he said.
Despite forming into a reliable back-up, he discussed his bigger ambitions. “I’ve sacrificed for a lot of teams I’ve been on in the past to try to help the team succeed and now I have that chance to take a much bigger role,” said Lin.
During the 2012 season, new Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson was an assistant with the Knicks and personally worked with Lin daily. He scored 136 points in his first five career starts, an NBA record. Through the reunion, he hopes to rekindle at least some of the magic and productivity from that year.
“We’ve had experience together, which was great. We’re looking to him for leadership,” said Atkinson, adding that he wants to challenge Lin’s jumper. “He’s such a good driver and gets to the free throw line so well and that’s his strength. He’s comfortable with it, but there is a point in the NBA, with the spacing, especially at the end of the game, where he is going to have to make that shot.”
Lin confirmed his affinity with his new head coach’s style. “For me, it started with my relationship with Kenny. I know he’s going to get up earliest in the morning and watch the most film,” he said. “He’s going to pay the most attention to the details. So I feel like, coming to this position, I know he’s going to do everything he can to make me grow and to make this team what it needs to be.”
When asked about Sunset Park and the large Chinese population, Lin was eager to give back. “It’s exciting and I’m not just saying this just to be cliché ,” he said. “The one thing that’s hurt me in terms of moving every year is investing in the community, especially the underprivileged people in that area. Now that I know I’m going to be here for more than one year. I want to do things, be a part of the community and really do stuff that’s not just on the court.”