It feels like the NBA has given up on me: Jeremy Lin

Jeremy Lin with his Toronto Raptors teammates after they defeated the Golden State Warriors in Game Six of the NBA Finals on June 13 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. He is now a free agent. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Jeremy Lin with his Toronto Raptors teammates after they defeated the Golden State Warriors in Game Six of the NBA Finals on June 13 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. He is now a free agent. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

TAIPEI • Jeremy Lin's summer began with a National Basketball Association (NBA) championship ring as a member of the Toronto Raptors, but things have gone downhill from there.

Now a free agent and possibly despairing of another opportunity to play in the league, the veteran point guard spoke emotionally over the weekend of hitting "rock bottom".

Appearing on Good TV, a Taiwanese station specialising in Christian programming, he addressed an audience on the importance of never giving up.

To make his point, he summarised a path through the NBA that did not play out as he had planned and has left him hoping to latch on somewhere and prove himself all over again.

"Man, it's hard, life is hard," said the 30-year-old Lin, wiping tears from his eyes, "because I've always wanted to do things the right way, and I've given more of myself to God every single year, and every year, it gets harder.

"In English, there's a saying, and it says once you hit rock bottom, the only way is up.

"But rock bottom just seems to keep getting more and more rock bottom for me. So, free agency has been tough. Because I feel like, in some ways, the NBA's kind of given up on me."

Born in California to Taiwanese immigrants, Lin became the first Asian American to win an NBA title.

PUTTING ON A BRAVE FACE

Because I knew for six weeks, I'd have to just put on a smile. I'd have to talk about a future I don't know if I want to have. Honestly, it's just embarrassing and it's tough.

JEREMY LIN, pouring out his woes on Good TV, a Taiwanese station specialising in Christian programming, during his Asian trip.

However, after being waived by the Atlanta Hawks in February and signing with NBA champions Raptors, he averaged only 3.4 minutes for Toronto in the play-offs, and played just one minute during a six-game Finals win over the Golden State Warriors.

Their surprising triumph was followed by a string of blockbuster signings and trades as free agency began, but there has been no takers for Lin.

Almost a month since the market opened, he told his audience that he "always knew if I gave anyone a reason to doubt, they would".

Lin, who was undrafted out of Harvard University, has had plenty of doubt to overcome.

In 2012, during his second season, he exploded into the national consciousness while with the New York Knicks, parlaying a stretch of stellar play into "Linsanity" - a giddy period when he was the most talked-about player in the league after then leading the struggling team to a seven-game win streak.

It proved all too brief, however, and Lin revealed that "a lot of tough things happened" when he moved on to the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers.

Things appeared to be looking up in 2016, though, when Lin joined the Brooklyn Nets, who gave him "a chance to be the player I thought I could be". But beset with injuries, he was traded "out of nowhere" last year to the Hawks. That was a problem for Lin, a veteran on a young, rebuilding team.

He hoped Toronto would be the opportunity he had been waiting for since "Linsanity". But a late-season shooting slump led to limited minutes in the post-season and though "we won a championship", it was a hollow feeling as he "didn't feel like I really earned (it)".

He added: "I thought to myself, 'You know what, it's okay, I'll take this hit and get back up.'

"Then free agency came around, and this was the last straw that broke the camel's back. After the season, I had to get ready for this Asia trip, and it was the last thing I wanted to do.

"Because I knew for six weeks, I'd have to just put on a smile. I'd have to talk about a future I don't know if I want to have. Honestly, it's just embarrassing and it's tough."

If the NBA has no room any more for Lin, basketball fans might see him spending the upcoming season in Russia.

A recent Sportando report cited a source claiming that he is CSKA Moscow's "top target" to be their new point guard.

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2019, with the headline 'It feels like the NBA has given up on me: Jeremy Lin'. Print Edition | Subscribe