Welcomed by a large media contingent, Jeremy Lin was officially introduced as a Los Angeles Laker on Thursday at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo.
“Really excited to be part of this organization,” said Lin. “Obviously for me it’s a new start, a fresh start. I’m excited to be back in the state of California. It’s definitely good to be back.”
With Lin comes expectations and hype thanks to his rise to stardom in New York in 2011 when ‘Linsanity’ was born. While fans and media may expect a similar performance here in Los Angeles, the 25-year old point guard let it be known that he is not attempting to put on a Hollywood sequel.
“I’m not trying to relive that banner season and I think that’s been a big weight off my shoulder. I’m not trying to recreate a ‘Linsanity,’ ” said Lin, who grew up in nearby Torrance. “I’m not trying to be that phenomenon that happened in New York. I just want to be myself more than ever.”
While Lin does not expect ‘Linsanity’ to return, he ironically is going back to No. 17, the number he wore with the Knicks when his career took off. He wore No. 7 with the Warriors and Rockets.
As with New York, playing for the Lakers comes pressures of performing at a high-level on a national stage, but Lin says he does not feel any added pressure upon his arrival in Los Angeles.
“I feel the least amount of pressure on my shoulders now than I ever had,” said Lin, who averaged 12.5 points and 4.1 assists last season in Houston. “I try to make sure the circumstances don’t dictate the pressure I feel.”
While Lin may not feel pressure now, it could very well be a different story come training camp and the regular season. In recent seasons, the point guard position has been somewhat of a problem for the Lakers. The team hoped that Steve Nash could add a different dynamic to the team but unfortunately injuries have derailed those hopes and now Lin has a chance to take ahold of the starting position moving forward.
Lin brings along career averages of 11.9 points and 4.8 assists, but has shown stretches of brilliance and playing at an elite level that could translate even more so in the bright lights of Los Angeles. While his stint in Houston was not favorable due in large part to James Harden handling the ball and running the offense, it is important to look back at what Lin did in New York when given the opportunities.
In 2011, the Lakers entered Madison Square Garden for its first look at Lin and the point guard decided to have himself career game, scoring 38 points while dishing out seven assists in a 92-85 victory, out dueling Kobe Bryant (34 points and 10 rebounds), who said he had no idea who the point guard was before the matchup, but did later question how NBA personnel missed a talent like Lin.
“The biggest thing to me is how everybody missed it,” Bryant said before the 2011 All-Star Game. “They all would be fired if I was owning a team. I hear this stuff, ‘It came out of nowhere.’ I think it’s a load of [garbage]. You can’t play that well and just come out of nowhere. There has to be something there and everybody missed it. So heads would roll [if I was owner].”
For the Lakers and its fans, there will be zero complains if ‘Linsanity’ is recreated, but Lin made it clear he is looking to create a new chapter with the purple and gold instead of hanging onto past success.
“I’m not trying to be a player from the past,” Lin said. “I’m trying to make history again.”
And with a historic franchise like the Lakers, the stage is set for him to do just that.