Lin: 'I was supposed to be their new leader'

Lin: 'I was supposed to be their new leader'
August 20, 2013, 11:00 am
Share This Post

Jeremy Lin opens up about coming to Houston

(Troy Taormina - USA Today Sports Images)
CSNHouston Staff

During a recent speech in Taiwan, Jeremy Lin talked about the obstacles he overcame from last season.

Lin was speaking at a "Dream Big, Be Yourself" youth conference in Taiwan, a conference that was reportedly attended by over 20,000 people. The Rockets point guard started off in grand fashion, wowing the crowd with improved Chinese, as he used his Mandarin to say he had improved to the point where he didn't need a translator! After the crowd roared in approval, Lin revealed with a smile that he was only kidding and welcomed his translator back on the stage.

As Lin proceeded to speak, he gave a short summary of the background behind Linsanity. He said Linsanity helped him sign a three-year, $25-million-dollar contract with the Rockets, which was then followed by some pretty impressive math as his translator converted that into Taiwanese NT dollars on the spot (Lin complimented him for that).

Heading into his second stint with the Rockets last season (he had been cut in training camp the year before), Lin said, "As the 2012-13 season started, I was supposed to be the cornerstone of the Houston Rockets. I was supposed to be their new leader, the main guy to finally lead the Rockets back to the NBA playoffs. I was expecting to come in and pick up right where I left off and I was ready to invigorate the entire city of Houston. All across Houston, you could see my face on the billboards. I thought I looked so cool.

"I was supposed to save Houston basketball," he continued. "But most importantly, I was ready to be Linsanity. But as I've seen many times in my life, what actually happened was nothing like I had planned."

First, Lin said, the team signed James Harden.

"With the addition of James, I went from being the franchise guy to taking a back seat," Lin said. "And on top of that, I started the season off playing terribly. Less than 10 games into the season, I started getting benched. And in many games, our backup point guards were playing more minutes than I was. At this point of the season, my stats were significantly worse. The coaches were losing faith in me. Basketball fans were making fun of me.

"Journalists were criticizing me. My Twitter feed was filled with all types of hateful words. I heard 'overrated,' 'overpaid,' 'a flash in the pan,' 'a bust,' 'a nobody,' and as a result, I became really, really frustrated. On Dec. 15, 2012, I wrote in my diary, 'I'm tired and weary and I can't wait for the season to end.' I went on to write, 'I haven't been able to eat or sleep recently. I'm just tossing and turning in anxiety. What if I lose my spot as a starter?  What if I have to be the backup the rest of the season? And what happens if my backups are actually better than me?' I became so obsessed with becoming a great basketball player. I was so obsessed with living up to my contract. And I became so obsessed with trying to be Linsanity - being this phenomenon that took the NBA and the world by storm. Linsanity was supposed to be my breakthrough,  where I went from being stuck on the bench to experiencing new freedom in being an up-and-coming star. Houston was supposed to be a fresh start, a new beginning, a new journey. Most of all, I was supposed to be joyful and free, but what I experienced was the opposite. I had no joy. And I felt no freedom. I felt chained to the world's lofty expectations. I felt like I had to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders and that's why I couldn't eat or sleep. That's why I was no fun to be around. I never smiled. In fact, I even cried before a game against the New Orleans Hornets because I was so anxious about losing my starting spot."

Lin then talked about how he had to self reflect, asking himself if he needed to listen to what other people said about him, if he would allow himself to be consumed by his on-court performance or by his job. This was when, Lin said, God let him know he needed an identity check.

"I had to re-prioritize my life," Lin said. "I told myself, 'I'm no longer going to listen to everyone else's voice. I'm not even going to listen to my own voice anymore.' I had to get back to listening to God's voice.

"I had to return to my identity as one of God's children rather than trying to be Linsanity, which was an identity created by the world."

Lin's point was for people to search within themselves and delve deep within their souls to determine who they are, what makes them happiest, and what makes them saddest. Lin addressed money, worldly success, and human approval as three voices often listened to by society. Lin said that he himself listened to the voice of Linsanity, and it had put him in the uncomfortable nature that he had described earlier in his speech.

"I wanted to be the Linsanity phenom that everyone came to embrace," Lin said. "I was living a life others expected of me and I was living for human approval."

This, Lin said, was a mistake. After his identity check, Lin said he realized he needed to be a beloved child of God.

"If we ask God for the forgiveness for our sins and if we live to serve Him rather than ourselves, we will have salvation, a relationship with our Creator, eternal life in heaven," Lin said. "That is what your identity should be.

"I don't have to be perfect," he said. "I don't have to be Linsanity for God to love me. And once I remembered that my identity wasn't in basketball, I was freed from trying to validate myself by playing well. I was no longer chained by my expectations or the expectations of others. And, as a result, I was able to play freely and better on the court."

Lin averaged 13.4 points last season with the Rockets. He gained momentum as the regular season ended, averaging 17.3 points and 6.9 assists in April. His three-point shooting percentage over the final three months was markedly better than the first three months of the year.