NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Jeremy Lin captured the city of New York last season when he came out of virtually nowhere to lead the Knicks to the playoffs.
The undrafted point guard from Harvard brought excitement back to Madison Square Garden and shook the basketball world upside down, averaging 14.6 points and 6.2 assists in 35 games played for New York.
And though Linsanity swept the city, Lin’s stint in the Big Apple wasn’t as rosy as it may have seemed to Knicks fans and the general public.
Currently a member of the Houston Rockets, the 6-foot-3, 200-pounder reflected on the difficulty of becoming famous overnight.
“I went into an absolute shell for a few months in New York,” Lin told Yahoo! Sports. “I went through a phase when I didn’t want to talk to anybody. I didn’t want to talk to my friends. I didn’t want to give anybody close to me a chance to mess up our relationship. I saw how publicity and fame changed certain people around me, and changed how people looked at me. And I hated it.”
The 24-year-old revealed that he struggled mightily with the transition of going from an unknown afterthought to a key cog on a playoff contender — in the biggest market in the country, no less.
Who was on his side and who was secretly against him? Those thoughts rattled him to the core, he admitted.
“It wasn’t like I worried they were going to cut me,” Lin said. “But it just seemed too good to be true. Like, the coach actually cared about what plays I enjoy running, or the coach would text me on a day off to see how I was feeling. That type of stuff was too good to be true.”
Lin said that the “too good to be true” scenario happened under now-Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni, but when Mike Woodson arrived, everything changed.
“It changed,” Lin said. “Different style, different coach.”
And when some Knicks — including Carmelo Anthony — ridiculed the free-agent contract that Lin was set to receive?
Let’s just say that the Ivy Leaguer wasn’t totally blown away by that development.
“I was a little surprised, but I wasn’t shocked,” Lin said. “I honestly feel it’s part of the underlying issue of race in American society, of being an Asian-American. I haven’t figured it out. I haven’t wrapped my head around it. But it’s something I’m thinking about.”
Lin is loving his new life in Houston. No longer in the melting pot that is New York City, the Los Angeles native is averaging 10.9 points, 6.1 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game.
But still, Lin knows that he remains — and will continue to be — a target around the league.
“I’ve always been a target,” Lin told Yahoo! Sports. “Everyone looks me and says, ‘I’m not going to let that Asian kid embarrass me. I’m going to go at him.’ That’s how it’s been my whole life. This has been different, though. Now, I was on the scouting report. People started to pay attention to what I could and couldn’t do … I’m not saying I get everyone’s best shot, but I would say people don’t want to be embarrassed by me because of my skin color.”
Knicks fans, do you wish Lin well in Houston, or will you root against him for the remainder of his career? Share your thoughts in the comments section below…