If there is a reason to get excited about the Nets, who are rebuilding from scratch under a new regime headed by general manager Sean Marks and coach Kenny Atkinson, it is the return of Jeremy Lin to the New York scene.
Since bursting to prominence during the “Linsanity” craze with the Knicks in 2012, Lin has played for the Rockets, Lakers and Hornets with varying degrees of success. But this is the first time he has been handed the keys and asked to drive the car as starting point guard. It should be fascinating to watch.
Q: Can you describe the excitement of finally having the chance to run a team?
Lin: “I’m extremely excited. I feel like I’ve waited a long time for this opportunity. I’m really focusing on just having fun with it and enjoying it because I really regret not doing that earlier in my career during some of the opportunities or some of the peaks. I didn’t feel like I was able to enjoy it as much because I was so focused on the next thing.”
Q: Is that because you were trying hard to prove yourself?
Lin: “Yeah, I was always trying to prove myself, always trying to get to that next level, worrying too much what everybody else thought and felt. Nowadays, I try to limit the number of voices that I have in my head. I limit the amount of information I’m taking in from the outside or from people I don’t consider to be valuable or helpful voices in my life.”
Q: Kenny Atkinson says you must move from a two-guard mentality to a point-guard mentality. Can you do that and stay aggressive?
Lin: “It’s definitely a fine line. I’m still trying to figure it out, too. I think it’s going to take a little bit of time. What Kenny might see in me as a player is something we’re going to continually discuss because, at the end of the day, I obviously want to play the way he wants me to play. He knows, too, that I have to go off instinct. We talk a lot, so, I’m not worried about it, and we have the type of relationship where he can say anything to me and vice versa.”
Q: How valuable is the trust you and Kenny developed when you worked together with the Knicks?
Lin: “It’s everything. It’s why I’m here. It’s what’s going to allow me to feel empowered to be more successful and to help this team be more successful. I trust him a lot, and I know that he knows what he’s saying. I always love picking his brain, and I feel like some of the pitfalls in my earlier career were because I didn’t have that relationship with the coach I was playing for.”
Q: Can you compare the Nets’ camaraderie to what you experienced with the Knicks and Lakers?
Lin: “I don’t want to get into specific details or player names, but I just know I’ve been on teams where the camaraderie was great and last year (with Charlotte) was a great example. I reference my high school team a lot . . . The teams that are close together are the teams that are more successful. Then, I’ve been in locker rooms where guys didn’t always get along, and there’s tension and hostility (that) cuts away at what you’re trying to accomplish.”
Q: Did that affect your play or your happiness in the past?
Lin: “It affects the play, it affects your happiness, it affects whether you want to show up to work or not, it affects the culture, the vibe, everything.”
Q: Can you compare the pressure you face in Brooklyn to what you experienced with the Knicks?
Lin: “There’s less stress in general because I’m really focused on how can I live and play. I really care about what God’s standard is for me. It doesn’t matter if I was in L.A. or Detroit or Memphis or Manhattan or Brooklyn. I have no idea what anyone has thought about me this preseason on the outside. I just want to do things in a way that would make God proud, and I want to keep building these relationships and building my friendships with the people I’m going to battle with every day. That’s all I’m focused on.”
Q: When you first came to New York, you famously crashed on the couch at the apartment of teammate Landry Fields. When was the last time you slept on someone’s couch?
Lin: (Laughs) “To be honest, I slept on my own couch a few nights ago. I forgot I had promised multiple people they could stay at my place and had double-booked it. I felt bad making someone else do it, so, I slept on my own couch a few nights ago. But I have a nice couch, so, it didn’t bother me.”