NBA basketball star Jeremy Lin officially signed with the Los Angeles Lakers for a one year term, terminating his three year stint early with the Houston Rockets. The subject of the global phenomenon, known as "Linsanity," expressed disappointment in how his time with the Rockets ended, but chose to trust in God's guidance for his life while leaning on his evangelical Christian faith.
"Thank you to Houston fans, media, Rockets staff, coaches and teammates for the last 2 years! Sad it never went, or ended, the way I had envisioned it to, but God always has a perfect plan and I'll forever cherish that chapter of my life. I'm SO blessed to join the Lakers and can't wait to get started!!! #purpleandgold #calikid," he tweeted, including a cheerful Instagram picture of himself holding a hand gesture of LA.
While the 25 year old will be sorely missed by some in Houston, Lin is expected to see much more playing time in Los Angeles, a change that's welcomed by Lin's fans in the Asian-American communities in the States and in Asia. As he will take on the backup position for guard Steve Nash, it is also likely that he will be placed on the team's starting roster, given that Nash, 40, is getting old and struggling with injuries. The former Rockets point guard will also be helping the fully-recovered Kobe Bryant by getting him open shots in Los Angeles.
During his time at Rockets, the first NBA player of Taiwanese or Chinese descent had limited playing time due to Coach Kevin McHale's decision, a factor that some believe limited his contributions and stats despite still being the best point guard in Houston.
In two seasons with Rockets, Lin averaged 13.0 points and 5.2 assists in 153 games, and his last season showed his shooting career-bests from the field (.446) and on three-point field goals (.358). As a four-year veteran with Warriors, Knicks and Rockets, he has a career average of 11.9 points, 4.8 assists and 2.6 rebounds in 217 career games (140 starts).
The Lakers acquired Lin as well as a future first round draft pick and a second round draft pick in 2015 in exchange for the rights to Sergei Lischuk, according to NBA.com. And the trade deal went through partly because Lin is only under contract for one more season, which would preserve Los Angeles' salary cap space next summer, the ESPN reported.
Born in Los Angeles and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area of Northern California, Lin led led his Palo Alto High School team to state championship and was voted the best player in California; however, he did not receive any athletics scholarships out of high school and was undrafted out of Harvard University despite highly qualified performances. It wasn't only until 2010-11 did he sign a partial contract with the Golden State Warriors, but continued to remain benched and was assigned three times to the NBA Development League (D-League).
In an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes," Lin attributed the reasons on why no schools that he applied to, including Stanford and UCLA, offered him scholarships to racial stereotypes toward him as an Asian-American. His meteoric rise to NBA stardom took place in early 2012 when he replaced the injured Carmelo Anthony and led the New York Knicks from a losing streak to a 7-1 winning streak. That was when his name became an international sensation, which led to him signing a three-year deal in July with the Rockets worth just over $25 million - $5 million in first year, $5.225 million in second and $14.8 million in the third, which covers the 2014-15 season.
Since joiniing the Rockets, some sports writers have expressed doubt on whether Lin would be able to perform at the same caliber as he had in New York during the height of "Linsanity," stating that it may be just a flash in the pan. As the season progressed, Lin suffered setbacks with low performances and injuries, and then James Harden was brought onto the team, which further decreased Lin's playing time and signaled his eventual replacement as the starting point guard by Patrick Beverly.
Last summer, NBA All-Star Dwight Howard left the Lakers for Rockets, because he believed that Rockets showed the greatest promise toward his first NBA championship title and that he prefers the team chemistry exhibited among the young players, who included Chandler Parsons, Harden, Lin, Omer Asik. Even then, sports media continued the relentless call for Lin's trade for he was an expendable part in Rocket's championship plan. That was when Rockets' General Manager Daryl Morey affirmed that Lin will stay, which quelled the rumors and debate.
This season, the Rockets made it to the Playoffs, but ended their journey to the title short after their Game 6 defeat in early May by the Portland Trailblazers. The team's high hopes and anticipations of winning the championship with newly-signed Howard as center and Harden as forward were dashed to pieces.
In late June, the Rockets were attempting to sign Carmelo Anthony by clearing enough money from under their salary cap to make a run at max players, including LeBron James and Chris Bosh. When Anthony visited the Toyota Center in Houston, the Rockets hung posters of images edited in Photoshop of Anthony sporting Lin's No. 7 jersey. The apparent appeasement stunt was met with public criticisms as Lin was still on the team. Some were not surprised by the careless insensitivity or intentional disrespect towards Lin, since, afterall, the Rockets management are only after the profit but had little regard for any players they considered expendable.
In response, Lin, who was raised in a Christian immigrant family, expressed how he felt "disrespected," but did not lash back in retaliation. Instead, he posted on his social media accounts a Bible verse from Luke 6:29, "If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them."
The Rockets attempts at Melo revealed the team's intent to trade Lin, and rumors began to spread of Lin possibly being traded to 76ers.
In a turn of events, Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak announced this Sunday of acquiring Lin as their newest player, noting how his acquisition will make Lakers a better team while maintaining financial flexibility. The Lakers also realized that by bringing Lin on the team is probably makes the most sense as Los Angeles boasts of the nation's largest Asian-American population, dubbed as the Asian capital of United States. According to a recent demographic research report, Los Angeles County has around 1.5 million Asian-Americans (15 percent of the county's population). LA County is only one of the three counties in Southern California. This trade will likely help revive the community's passion for the Lakers.
"In addition to what he'll bring us on the court, we think Jeremy will be warmly embraced by our fans and our community," said Lakers' General Manager.
Early last week, Lin had been in Beijing for a promotional event with Adidas, but flew back to Los Angeles to sign the contract with Lakers. He has since resumed his trip in Asia where he is scheduled to make stops in China, including Shanghai, Wuhan and Guanzhou, and then in Taiwan, his parent's country of birth.
In an interview with local Chinese media In Shanghai, the extremely popular basketball player said that he is very happy to be able to play in California as many of his relatives and friends live in Los Angeles, which is very close to home.