Los Angeles Lakers point guard Jeremy Lin has been playing in the NBA for five seasons. Now he is reflecting on how his Asian-American background has affected his basketball career.
In an exclusive interview conducted by Tim Lau of Asia Blog, Lin was asked what advice he would give to himself about playing professional-level basketball. He was the first American of Chinese or Taiwanese descent to play in the NBA.
"If I could give advice to myself, I would tell myself, number one, to have fun and enjoy each moment," Lin said. "Playing in the NBA was always a dream of mine, but when I finally made it, I was so obsessed with holding on to it, making the most of it and rising [up] the ranks that I didn't take enough time to cherish each day. That's what I try to do more of these days."
Lin added that other advice to would include being "confident" and finding a way to "believe in yourself."
"I feel like it took me a while to get to that point after getting into the NBA," Lin said.
Lin admitted that his rise to stardom in the NBA was considered "a big deal" by others, especially after he played for the New York Knicks in 2012 in the phenomenon known as "Linsanity." Lau asked him if that legacy continued to shape his career.
"People didn't expect me to succeed," Lin said. "I think it is definitely still a big part of me and my career to this day, the most obvious being how unbelievable and devoted my fan base is through the highs and lows of my career. Many people see me as much more than a basketball player and I hope I can use this platform to glorify Christ as well as break down stereotypes of Asians."
Lin was then asked if he has grown tired of questions related to his Asian-American heritage. Although he had "no issues answering questions about it" now, he did not always appreciate that perspective.
"Early on it was frustrating when I felt like no one cared about my basketball play and only about my ethnicity, but as I get older I appreciate the fact that I have a unique voice and perspective," Lin said. "I hope to eventually be a strong voice to the world on behalf of Asian Americans."
Lau noted that Lin spent a few summers over in Taiwan. He asked the point guard what his favorite memories were from his visits to that Asian country.
"My favorite times will always be hanging out with my family and friends and enjoying the sights and foods of Asia," Lin said. "We really enjoy going to the night market because it allows us to feel the pulse and energy of the city."
According to Lau, Lin's NBA career has taken him to New York City, Houston and Los Angeles. Lin was asked about what he thought about each city, both good and bad.
"In New York, my favorite thing is how energetic the fans are," Lin said. "I had a harder time dealing with how hectic and fast-paced the city could be at times."
Lin added that living in New York City "was an adjustment from the low-key suburbs of California." He then turned his focus on Houston, where he played for the Rockets.
"In Houston, my favorite thing is the diversity of restaurants everywhere. I love to eat," Lin said. "My least favorite thing was losing in the first round of playoffs two years in a row."
Finally, Lin had a few thoughts about his current city, Los Angeles.
"In Los Angeles, my favorite thing was being able to enjoy the city with family and friends," Lin said. "My least favorite thing was the disappointment and unmet expectations of our team last season."
According to Lau, Lin has been known for conducting good-natured pranks. He asked Lin which pranks stood out to him the most; Lin stated that his prank with Adidas was the best one to date.
"It was one of my most elaborate pranks and I had to do it in another language," Lin recalled. "It was challenging but we made it work. Most of the other pranks I'm in my natural state and very comfortable, but the Adidas employee one had me pretty nervous."
Adidas Basketball posted Lin's prank on YouTube last October. In the video, Lin posed as an "Employee of the Year" at the company's flagship store in Taiwan.
"Today is my first day of work. I'm gonna sell some Adidas shoes," Lin said in Chinese, complete with a disguise of a wig and spectacles. "My name is Wang Wei-Chih."
In the video, which has received over 2 million hits on YouTube so far, Lin engaged with customers in the store; some of them recognized him based on his height and stature. He also played down his basketball career as part of the prank.
"He didn't believe me!" Lin said as one customer walked out on him.
Lin added that he will continue sticking to basketball as his job for now.