The two steered clear of any predictions but focused instead on the value of progress, of sticking to a plan and their relationship ... as well as the pressure of coaching and playing in New York.
“The process drives me now. Like the process of building a program, everything that it entails … every little detail. Not winning championships, not winning five games in a row, but just the whole process of building this program,” the coach turned . I’m obsessed with all the steps. That’s what drives me every morning: How can we do something a little better?”
For Lin, the season is about having fun and taking on the responsibility of leading a team in the NBA.
“I’m extremely excited,” he said. “I feel like I’ve waited a long time for this opportunity. I’m really focusing on just having fun with it and enjoying it because I really regret not doing that earlier in my career during some of the opportunities or some of the peaks.”
On how to deal with the pressure of coaching and playing in New York, the two had different solutions, much in keeping with their personalities.
“Just coming with a smile on my face and understanding the big picture, and not losing sight of the big picture, and where we’re trying to go in the future. And I know that’s a big task,” said Atkinson. “Kind of sections of our schedule, taking it five games at a time, three games at a time, looking at the little wins. “
“I just want to do things in a way that would make God proud,” said Lin. “And I want to keep building these relationships and building my friendships with the people I’m going to battle with every day. That’s all I’m focused on.”
On their relationship, Atkinson talked about what differences he’s seen in Lin.
“Better defender. More mature. Better leader. Still stubborn (laugh),” said the coach, adding “He has strong opinions on how the game should be played and how it should be coached. I like that. I like that dialogue.”
““It’s everything. It’s why I’m here. It’s what’s going to allow me to feel empowered to be more successful and to help this team be more successful,” said Lin. “I trust him a lot, and I know that he knows what he’s saying. I always love picking his brain, and I feel like some of the pitfalls in my earlier career were because I didn’t have that relationship with the coach I was playing for.”
Atkinson also had some fond words for Brook Lopez.
“What a fun person he is to be around. He’s a smart guy. I like busting his chops. And then from a basketball standpoint, he’s more skilled than I thought, and he’s more athletic than I thought. He moves better than I thought.”
And Lin talked about the importance of culture, leaving little doubt how much better it is in Brooklyn than it had been elsewhere on his journey.
“The teams that are close together are the teams that are more successful. Then, I’ve been in locker rooms where guys didn’t always get along, and there’s tension and hostility (that) cuts away at what you’re trying to accomplish.”
There’s a LOT more in both interviews about Linsanity, Brooklyn basketball, Long Island, pizza, wardrobe, God’s plan, etc. And Atkinson’s message to Nets fans...
“I’d love to see them grow with us and build with us, like see that we’re building something, and that we’re growing. I want them along for the ride, and be with us through the hard times and then be with us as we grow and we build this thing.”