NEW YORK (AP) — Jeremy Lin knows he’ll carry the weight of “Linsanity” as wide as the Brooklyn Bridge heading into the new NBA season.
“People are quicker to discount me or say certain things because of my race,” said Lin, the league’s first American-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent. “In some ways, Linsanity wouldn’t have been Linsanity if I was a different skin color most likely. It wouldn’t have been as big of a deal. That went to my advantage. But if you look prior to that, a lot of the obstacles or positions to even get to that point where I could get to a position of getting on the floor, they’re definitely obstacles or barriers or stereotypes I had to fight along the way. I’ve always understood there’s good, there’s bad and you’ve got to take them together and just be thankful for it all.”
After captivating New York and becoming a global phenomenon by averaging 24 points, nine assists and four rebounds for the Knicks during a 10-game stretch in February 2012, Lin becomes the face of the Brooklyn Nets.
“I definitely feel a much stronger responsibility or leadership role that I didn’t in my last two or three teams,” he said Monday at the Nets’ media day. “I feel like for me here, a lot of it’s going to fall on me and Brook (Lopez) setting the tone every day in workouts, even how we live off the court and how we take care of our bodies, eat and sleep.”
For Lin, an undrafted point guard from Harvard, this is the second chance he’s craved to finish what he began in New York four years ago. And how he plays could determine whether the Nets can surpass low expectations this season.
“I’ve always prayed and asked God, I want a chance to come back to New York, but I want it to be right,” he said. “I don’t want to just come back to New York just to come back to New York.”
In Brooklyn, Lin will be the focal point of the offense with the ball in his hands often as the primary playmaker, similar to his days under coach Mike D’Antoni with the Knicks. Lin reunites with new Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, the former Knicks assistant coach who helped him develop and believes he is ready to handle the responsibilities of running this team.
“It’s a heck of a challenge for him, but I think he’s prepared for it,” Atkinson said last week. “I think it’s the right time in his career.”
After signing Lin to a three-year, $36 million deal, the Nets hope Lin can pick up where Linsanity left off and spur a rebuilding effort in Brooklyn.
“At the end of the day, the best fit was here,” he said. “I was just extra excited when it happened because I get to come back here, my friends are here, the fans, get some good food and just be back where my career took off.”