In his first year with the Charlotte Hornets, point guard Jeremy Lin and his vast contributions as a reserve have played a key role in guiding the team back to the NBA Playoffs.
Lin, 27, has been adjusting to the backup role for several years. Averaging 11.7 points and 3.0 assists in 26.3 minutes per game this season, the Bay Area native is in the conversation for the Sixth Man of the Year award. While Lin doesn’t feel he’ll win the award, he’s not focusing on personal accolades this time around.
“I think, for me, I’m just in a different place mentally where I am really able to enjoy everything – I’ve been able to enjoy it even more than ever before,” Lin said to GiveMeSport during a global conference call with media on Tuesday.
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“That’s, I feel, like a big reason why, as it’s taught me a lot. Seriously, I don’t think that I have to accomplish this, this, and this versus more or really just trying to enjoy every day, have the right mindset, and live, and play with joy.”
Lin’s exuberance and freedom have been on display throughout the season, primarily through his unique and extravagant hairstyles. He has also put on some notable performances, including a 35-point game versus the Toronto Raptors last December and a 29 point, seven rebound outing against the San Antonio Spurs last month.
The game versus San Antonio included a game-winning fadeaway jumper by Lin over All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge.
Several years removed from the phenomenon known as “Linsanity” with the New York Knicks -- in which the Chinese guard took New York City and the NBA by storm – playing in a tamer media environment with the Hornets has been conducive to his success this year.
“It is in a lot of ways comparing apples to oranges because I’m just a different person right now mentally than I was three, maybe four years ago out in New York,” said the Harvard University product. “Does that mean I don’t want to start or whatever? Everybody wants to start and be the man, me included.”
However, Lin has been valuable to the Hornets off the bench. With Kemba Walker enjoying the best season of his career at point guard, the Hornets have been able to distribute an even workload among a talented roster without a defined superstar.
The playoffs begin this Saturday, April 10. The Hornets will enter as the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference (47-36) no matter the result of their regular season finale against the Orlando Magic at the Time Warner Cable arena tonight. The promise of playoffs and the possibility of a title makes the entire experience worthwhile for Lin.
“I think there is something special happening in Charlotte so for me to sacrifice and come off the bench and try to help this team win has been rewarding,” said Lin.