No matter what happens from here, Jeremy Lin’s unexpected rise to prominence with the New York Knicks two years ago will always be one the greatest stories in sports. Lin was the Vince Papale of hoops; the real life Rocky of the hardwood. It was impossible not to get caught up in Linsanity, just as it was impossible for Lin to meet the expectations that followed afterwards.
It’s an odd thing to continue your career after you’ve already had your greatest moment, isn’t it? Some guys might believe their own hype and fizzle out, and some will endlessly search for a way to recapture it. But part of what made Jeremy Lin’s story so wonderful is the humility he’s shown throughout it all.
Lin’s season last year was a letdown, but it kind of had to be. As Lin told Ian O’Conner of ESPN Radio, that required an adjustment.
“One thing I have to remind myself is I just turned 25 years old, and to be honest I really have only been playing consistent basketball in the NBA for a season and a half, if that, and so I’m very young in my career. And because the expectations of Linsanity are so big and the shadow is so large … sometimes I have to take a step back and remind myself the journey has just begun.
“I don’t have as much freedom or the usage rate that I had in New York. I have to learn how to play a little more off the ball, how to cut better, how to shoot better, how to defend better. There are a lot of holes in my game, and I’ll be the first one to admit that. … It’s just a matter of trying to become better and repair and improve. Teams know what my strengths and weaknesses are now, and I don’t have that element of surprise anymore.”
A lot has changed for Lin since those couch-surfing days in New York, and it very well could be true that he’ll never escape the shadow of Linsanity. Maybe that’s okay. After all, it’s hard to imagine that becoming a global phenomenon like Lin did was ever even fathomable enough to dream up in the first place. But you know what probably was always in Lin’s dreams? Sticking in the NBA, having a successful career, and having a shot at holding the trophy once the final buzzer of the season sounds. All that is still in play for Lin, even if Linsanity isn’t.