July 28, 2014

The 6th Man: Jeremy Lin

This article was first published as 'The 6th Man' editorial of the 133rd edition (2014 - No. 12) of SLAM China magazine. Here is my original English version.

Forget the playoffs: the most pressure that an NBA player feels these days happens off the court. It happens in the midst of summertime and it happens off-the-court. Basketball’s maestros are most comfortable when they are asked to focus on what they do best – trying to win basketball games. But during the off-season, the chaos of the draft, trade rumours, and free agency takes over, and the same maestros are out of their element.

When SLAM China met Jeremy Lin in Beijing in early July, he was still a member of the Houston Rockets. But the man who was once responsible for causing the ‘Linsanity’ phenomenon was now in the eye of the storm again. He was hearing that he was going to end up in Philadelphia. In Cleveland. Back to Golden State. Instead of being judged on his on-court abilities, he was being reduced treated as simply cap space.

And yet, despite the storm that brewed externally, Lin was the epitome of internal calm in Beijing. He smiled. He posed for photographs. He spoke about his family. He spoke about his past, his present and his future. He spoke about the Rockets and about being back in China.

He wasn’t just handling the storm, he was taming it.

And that’s when we realized that, for the man who has struggled at every step of the way, who was refused a D1 scholarship, left undrafted, cut by two teams, forced to sleep on a teammate’s couch, and pushed to the limits of his NBA dreams, a few trade rumours are nothing. Jeremy Lin had been through real tornadoes; the offseason uncertainty was a mere breeze.

Days later, he was a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. The drama was thankfully over, and the new chapter in Linsanity was set to begin. Now, it’s time to focus on being a maestro again.

Check back soon to see my full feature and interview with Jeremy Lin published as the cover story of SLAM China 133 here.

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