For a two-week period, Jeremy Lin was the fascination of the whole basketball world. He revitalized the Knicks and was playing at the highest level on the league's biggest stage. It was awe-inspiring and the media latched onto him quicker than his ascendance.
The breakout season put him out of the Knicks' price range ultimately and the he signed a three-year, $25.1 million deal with the Rockets and made him a franchise player for the Rockets. He became a guy who would be entrusted as the point guard of a young team and the guy on the marquee.
This is what Lin expected when he signed the deal and had all the Linsanity expectations heaped on him.
Things changed pretty quickly in Houston for the franchise and for Lin. Just six days before the season began, the team acquired James Harden and its whole focus changed. Lin was left to struggle. And it was tough for the former toast of New York (h/t Ben Golliver of The Point Forward):
On Dec. 15, 2012, I wrote in my diary: ‘I’m tired and weary and 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 with anxiety. What if I lose my spot as a starter? What if I have to be the back-up the rest of the season? What happens if my back-ups 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 as an up-and-coming star. Houston was supposed to be a fresh start, a new beginning, a new journey.
Lin was not awful in his first year in Houston, but he was not Lin-sane. He averaged 14.9 points on 44.1 percent shooting and averaged 6.8 assists per game. Not awful numbers, but not necessarily what the Rockets paid for. Or what fans expected.
Lin seemed especially hard on himself too. He seemed to succumb to the pressures the media had put on him with this phenomenon he had become. When Patrick Beverley began pushing his minutes or James Harden became the man, it seems to have put even more pressure on Lin to perform.
Things got worse in the Playoffs when Lin suffered a chest contusion and was severely limited. This is very much a season of redemption for Lin as Dwight Howard joins the fold. This will push Lin even further back in the pecking order for shots. But the pick and roll offense that made him successful will not be going away. At least, that is how things appear now.
Linsanity may not be coming back any time soon, but there is still time for Lin to resurrect his own career. And be a point guard who leads his team deep into the Playoffs.
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