Jeremy Lin’s NBA career has been a rollercoaster, much like the Cyclone or the Thunderbolt, the two most prominent rides in Brooklyn’s famous amusement area Coney Island. Several train stops away, Lin will suit up for the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center as he looks for some stability in his well-traveled career.
Lin, who played for five teams in six seasons entering the 2016-17 campaign, will play for his sixth team in seven seasons when he dons the Nets’ black and white. Before the storm of Linsanity took over New York City in 2012, Lin was a Harvard educated player with no apparent NBA future playing for his hometown Golden State Warriors.
Then, he came to New York, with little-to-no expectations. The team was struggling with injuries to Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Iman Shumpert, in need of a boost. Lin, who was brought to the Knicks on December 27, 2011, did not get a chance to play until early-February. On several occasions, he believed his days were numbered.
“I heard that after this back-to-back-to-back, if I didn’t play, perform well, they were going to cut me. I was very afraid of being cut,” Lin said to CCTV-5 NBA Frontline Primetime (via Daily Knicks). “Every time I saw the general manager, when we were in the practice facility, shooting facility, when the GM came, I would walk to the side and avoid him.”
Then, following a 25-point performance and a 99-92 win over the then-New Jersey Nets, Linsanity was born. The Knicks used Lin’s historical performance to make a playoff run but a knee injury prematurely ended his season – and eventually, his stint in New York. In 35 games with the Knicks, Lin averaged 14.6 points and 6.2 assists in 26.9 minutes per game.
In the four years after his departure, Lin bounced around the league. He spent two seasons as a backup point guard with the Houston Rockets – who had cut Lin before he made his way to New York. The first season, he was the Rockets’ starting point guard in all 82 games. The second season, he played in 71 games but only started in 33.
Then, he spent one season in Los Angeles with the Lakers, who finished the season with a disappointing 21-61 record. Once again, Lin was a mere backup, starting in just 30 of the 74 games he played in purple and gold.
Last season, Lin averaged 11.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 3.0 assists in 78 games (13 starts) for the Charlotte Hornets. Lin, for the first time in his career, seemed comfortable to be a reserve. He was in the discussion for Sixth Man of the Year and led the Charlotte Hornets to the NBA Playoffs. A week before the 2016 NBA Playoffs, Lin told GiveMeSport he was playing with a renewed sense of calmness.
“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. “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.”
However, Lin did express a desire to find a home after tours of duty all around the league. He said remaining in Charlotte, where he felt he was “part of something special,” would be a great situation.
But entering the offseason, Lin was quickly snatched up by the Nets on a three-year, $36 million deal – which he celebrated with some Cheetos.
That new deal gives Lin the two things he wanted after Linsanity died down: remain in New York and have a long-term deal in place.
"We are excited to welcome Jeremy to Brooklyn," said Nets’ GM Sean Marks. "He is a high character and competitive individual who will fit our culture moving forward, as well as the style of play that Kenny will be implementing. Jeremy is a proven veteran point guard with strong leadership qualities, who is an obvious fit in this system and city."
We are excited to welcome Jeremy to Brooklyn," said Nets’ GM Sean Marks. "He is a high character and competitive individual who will fit our culture moving forward, as well as the style of play that Kenny will be implementing. Jeremy is a proven veteran point guard with strong leadership qualities, who is an obvious fit in this system and city."
Marks’ comments, sincere in nature, provide a drastic shift in the environment for Lin who four years earlier was dreading the mere presence of the Knicks’ GM.
"I didn’t want to meet him, I didn’t want to see him, I didn’t want him to see me, because I thought he was going to cut me,” Lin said. “I remember telling myself, ‘Hey, this might be your last chance. This might be your last NBA game.’ …I just said, OK, if this was going to be my last game, then I’m not going to be timid.”