Jeremy Lin became an international sensation that blew up to be known as “Linsanity” and a multi-millionaire after a month of impressive performances with the New York Knicks. He signed with the Houston Rockets and learned the magnitude of being an NBA household name was a lot more than he could have expected.
Speaking to a group of kids in Taipei, Taiwan, at a conference called Dream Big, Be Yourself, Lin said his first year with the Rockets hardly was enjoyable.
“Emptiness, confusion and misery” is how he described last season. He could not recapture the wonder of two years ago at the end of the Knicks’ season. He desperately wanted Linsanity to return. But could not muster the magic.
“I became so obsessed with becoming a great basketball player,” he said to the youths, “trying to be Linsanity, being this phenomenon that took the NBA by storm.”
But teams took pride in stopping him. He became a part of opponents’ game plan, and was unable, for the most part, to overcome the on-court attention.
“The coaches were losing faith in me; basketball fans were making fun of me,” Lin said. “I was supposed to be joyful and free, but what I experienced was the opposite. I had no joy and I felt no freedom.”
Not even the three-year, $25-million deal he signed with Houston comforted him. The Knicks wanted him back, but refused to re-sign him for that amount after 25 games. They did not match the Rockets’ offer sheet and Linsanity traveled–or was supposed to travel–with him to Houston.
The 13.4 points and 6.1 assists he averaged were respectable, but not spectacular. At the end of many tight games, he was on the bench. What did he learn from all this?
“The one thing I learned was how empty fame and worldly success really are,” Lin said. “The desire for success never stopped. If the voice that you listen to the most isn’t God’s voice, then eventually you will experience that emptiness, confusion and misery that I felt when I listened to the voice of Linsanity.”