The Brooklyn Nets introductory press conference was all about Jeremy Lin, who seemed extremely comfortable being the center of attention, knowing very well that he’s pretty much one of the only interesting and worth watching things on this team heading into the new season, and doesn’t mind playing the star role off the court, before he has to do it in games.
The Nets are beginning a process. Tearing down what didn’t work when they went all-in on winning a championship with a team that had Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce at the end of their careers, going through two rough seasons. They did make the playoffs in one of them, but they weren’t very fun to watch. Last season, winning 21 games, was the crashing of that tower of cards they built. Now comes the change, with Sean Marks in the front office, Kenny Atkinson on the sidelines, and Lin as the new arrival who is the first step in the new, wanted direction.
Lin wasn’t the only player introduced, but the media was all about him. Initially focusing too much on Linsanity, the press conference moved on to other things. Lin spoke about how he didn’t react too well to the phenomenon back in 2012, and how he doesn’t like being referred to as a phenomenon. He doesn’t mind being a role model. He doesn’t mind the attention. He wants to be in the spotlight, more for his team than for the media, but he has no problem with the attention. Four years ago, Lin became a star almost overnight, after being a guy that no one knew about, and was cut from a couple of teams. He’s a different player and person now, much more equipped to deal with whatever comes with playing great, and with the rougher moments of a season that isn’t going to be easy.
When Lin signed with the Houston Rockets, they initially made him out to be the face of the franchise. Lin seemed ready for that kind of responsibility. Besides the huge salary raise in the offer sheet, the Rockets sold him on building a team around him. Then cames James Harden, and the rest is history. Fast Forward to 2016, and the Rockets hired Mike D’Antoni, which is there to try and teach Harden to change, while Daryl Morey is losing more and more credit every day, no longer some analytical genius who can make the numbers work
. There’s no Harden or anything like that coming this time. The Nets have a Spurs person running the front office. They have a Mike D’Antoni assistant running the team on the floor. Elements and principles that fit in perfectly with Lin, and the team-oriented basketball he promotes and is associated with.
The biggest thing in this story is Lin finally getting the role he deserves. He had recognition in the past, but that just led him down a very different road. Ostracized on the floor, benched for lesser players, mishandled by his coaches. Lin isn’t the only player who has gone through these trials. But he’s one of those who has made the most of them. Improving where he had weaknesses. Not letting rougher seasons make him give up. Making the most of the opportunities he did get, especially last season in Charlotte. This all leads him to finally being a starting point guard, no competition whatsoever. More importantly, it puts him in a position to be a leader, and the recognized most important player on a team.
I met with my agents and family and close friends and they said what do you want and I said I want to see how good I can be. I have played a lot of different roles; I have sacrificed for a lot of teams that I have been on in the past and I have taken on smaller roles to try to help the team succeed. Now I have that chance to take a much bigger role and be a much bigger part. It is no surprise to anybody if you look at the numbers my whole career, when I have the ball in my hands, when I play longer minutes, when I am more comfortable, when I am empowered, I play better. And I am hoping I can take that next step as a player and hoping that I can help this team grow. I want to make my teammates better and make the game easier for everybody. I guess that is what will define me as a player.
The Nets aren’t trying to take over New York, but they want a bigger piece of the pie. Winning alone isn’t going to be enough, establishing a brand is part of the road to that goal. With Lin, the Nets have a star, both in how they’ll believe he’ll play, and in his interaction with fans and the New York City media, who was eating out of his hand (thanks NG) during the interviews, knowing very well just how big he and the Nets can be if all goes well.