Ho Chen / JLin 1-on-1: Season's turning point
The Ho Chen/Jeremy Lin 1-on-1 series begins as Lin discusses the season's turning point and his feelings for Kevin McHale.
Lin has had quite an eventful year, going from the Linsanity in New York, then signing with a Rockets team in need of a point guard, and making the adjustment to Houston as the Rockets overcame youth and roster shakeups to make the playoffs in his first season here.
It was a season full of ups and downs. At one point in the year, after he was limited to seven points in 32 minutes in a loss at Toronto, all eyes were on Lin with his next game being his return to Madison Square Garden. He responded to the limelight, scoring 22 points with nine assists and two steals in a 109-96 Rockets victory.
"To me, that was the turning point of my season was those two games - in between," Lin said. "I think, before that, I had been really really struggling. I wasn't really doing much. I was lost on the court. I was just lost. I didn't feel in rhythm or I didn't feel like I was doing much of anything. And after that, the New York game kind of turned things around. And after that, that's when I started to just improve and play better and get better and I think our team - we've learned a lot about ourselves and what works and what doesn't work."
That win started a five-game winning streak. Lin finished the regular season with averages of 13.4 points and 6.1 assists, but as the year progressed, he saw steady improvement. In the season's final month, he averaged 17.3 points and 6.9 assists.
This was done under the watchful eye of his head coach, Kevin McHale - a man who Lin admires, especially in the wake of McHale's daughter Sasha passing away in the middle of the season.
"Coach has been through a lot," Lin said. "No one knows exactly what he's been through. None of the players. We haven't been through a tragedy like that, but I remember every time I feel like things are going rough on my end, I always try to think about Coach, you know, how he has to show up to work every day with a smile on his face, get to work even though he had to mourn the death of a loved one. Just his determination to come back as quickly as he came back and join the team - we've all grown to really respect him for that."
McHale is also somebody who the players are comfortable enough around to trade good-natured barbs.
"We always like to joke around with him," Lin said. "I mean, he jokes around with us, so he loves to joke and pick on me if I'm ever in the training room or I'm getting ice or whatever."
At this point, Lin started breaking out impressions of McHale as he shared some examples of both sides having fun with each other.
"He always talks about, 'Man, we didn't that back in the day. You guys are soft today. You guys are divas,'" Lin said with a smile. "He always makes fun of us for every little device that we might be using to get healthy. But I always tell him, 'That's why you walk the way you do. Because you didn't take care of that body.' So hopefully, when I'm his age, I'll be able to walk a little more easily."
This is only a part of an extended series from Howard Chen's 1-on-1 sitdown interview with Jeremy Lin. Stay tuned to CSNHouston.com for future segments from the series.