Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin has one more day to rest his chest until Game 3 in Houston scheduled for Saturday.
“I look at this as my journey, and it’s just the beginning,” Lin told New York Times.
Coming into the playoffs, the Rockets sought to place as the 7th seed. Yet, since the first-round series on Sunday against the Oklahoma City Thunders, Rockets are in the deficit of two losses, with Lin scoring 4 points in a 120-91 loss in the first game.
In the second game against Thunders on Wednesday, Houston fell 105-102 as Lin suffered a chest injury and didn’t play in the second half.
An MRI revealed Thursday that Lin has a bruised right chest muscle and is listed as day to day.
“God willing, hopefully this will be the worst player that I am for the next 8 to 10 years until my body can’t hold up anymore. I just want to continue to improve every year. I’ve shown that I can play in the N.B.A. How good I can become, that’s to be determined.”
Lin has maintained his averages of last season. His scoring is down slightly, to 13.4 points a game from 14.6, according to Times. His assist average is virtually identical (6.1, from 6.2), his 3-point percentage is higher, and his turnover rate is lower.
While Lin continues to improve by increments, he has established chemistry with fellow newcomer guard James Harden, who finished fifth in the league in scoring average at 25.9 points a game. Lin no longer had to be the face of the franchise.
The New York Times reported earlier this week that Lin has “shown himself to be an everyday player in the N.B.A., a starting point guard who pushes the pace on a team that ranked second in the league in scoring and a leader who helped Houston reach the playoffs for the first time four seasons.”
“It seems like everybody’s perception of me is very bipolar,” Lin told the New York Times. “To one group, it’s overpaid, overrated; to another group, it’s underpaid, underrated, underdog. It’s funny to me because there’s no real balance. Why can’t I just be a young player who’s shown some potential and has a lot of learning to do?”
Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale said one of the biggest challenges this season was tempering the public expectations.
“They thought it was going to be Linsanity and he’d average 28 and 11,” McHale, referring to points and assists, told the Times. “I was like, ‘No, no, no.’ He had never had this responsibility for 82 games. I was really worried the expectation level would get to him.
“He still has a lot of figure out, but I was really proud of Jeremy, how he handled the ups and downs,” said McHale, according to Times.
Just a little over a year ago, Lin was virtually unknown, but the phenomenon of Linsanity – scoring the most points (136) by a player in first five starts since the 1876-77 N.B.A. merger and the first time a player collected at least 20 points and 7 assists in first five starts – changed that. Now, his every move was suddenly “critiqued or criticized or appreciated and praised.”
Taiwanese-American Wea H. Lee, chairman of Houston-based Southern News Group, told the Times, “Lin represents the model of the Chinese family.”
“Many parents want their kids to go to American schools to be lawyers, not athletes,” he said. Lin’s athletic achievement makes him a “unique symbol.”
“It’s a new image for Asians,” Lee told Times. “We need more Jeremy Lins, not just doctors.”
Lin’s Harvard education, his strong-Christian faith, his hard-working attitude makes him a role-model for Asian-Americans, which has helped changed perceptions of how Asians are viewed and even how they view themselves.
Game 3 in Houston is scheduled for Saturday at 9:30 p.m. ET (ESPN).