“Man, it’s hard, life is hard,” said the 30-year-old guard, 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,” Lin continued. “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. However, after being waived by the Atlanta Hawks in February and signing with the Raptors, he averaged only 3.4 minutes for Toronto in the playoffs, and he played just one minute during a six-game Finals win over the Golden State Warriors.
The Raptors’ surprising triumph was followed by a string of blockbuster signings and trades as NBA free agency began. Almost a month since the market opened, Lin found himself telling his audience, “I always knew if I gave anyone a reason to doubt, they would.”
As a player of unusual heritage for the NBA who was undrafted out of Harvard, Lin 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.”
That giddy period proved all too brief, however, and Lin said in Taiwan 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.” He was beset with injuries, however, and traded “out of nowhere” last year to the Hawks.
That was a problem for Lin, a veteran on a young, rebuilding team.
He was excited to have in Toronto an opportunity for which he had been waiting since Linsanity. But a late-season shooting slump led to limited minutes in the playoffs.
“But we won a championship,” Lin said, “and I thought to myself, ‘You know what, it’s okay, I’ll take this hit and get back up.’” He thought next season would “be a lot different,” but “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,” Lin added. “Because I knew for six weeks I would have to just put on a smile.
“I would have to talk about a championship that I don’t feel like I really earned. I would have to talk about a future I don’t know if I want to have. And honestly, it’s just embarrassing, and it’s tough.”
If the NBA has no room anymore for Lin, basketball fans might see him spending the upcoming season in Russia. A recent Sportando report cited a source in claiming that Lin is CSKA Moscow’s “top target” to be its new point guard.
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