Howard Beck writes Friday about the tie that binds between Jeremy Lin and Kenny Atkinson, forged four years ago during Linsanity and now crucial to any success the Nets have this year and beyond.
As Beck notes, the twosome have a history. Now, they must find a future.
This week, Atkinson made his debut as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, with Lin as his starting point guard—a bit of happy symmetry for two basketball vagabonds who got here the hard way and almost certainly wouldn't be here without each other.
Brought together by basketball, reunited by friendship, Lin and Atkinson now face their greatest challenge: making the Nets respectable.
Beck recites the familiar story of Linsanity and how Atkinson tutored Lin and how Lin took it from there. He also inserts a little know item about a piece of paper, one that showed Atkinson just how much he believed in himself, a torn paper fragment with suggested plays.
The fourth-string point guard is calling his own plays? the then Knicks assistant thought.
"I was blown away," Atkinson told Beck.
The Beck story talks of the bond between the two, the endless film sessions and training drills ... and how it led to Lin joining the Nets, a bad team at the start of a rebuild.
Lin has long said that no Atkinson, no Nets, and Atkinson tells Beck how he lobbied for his protege’ with Sean Marks after the Nets decided against pursuing Mike Conley Jr. (who wasn’t leaving Memphis) and Rajon Rondo (who would bring too much baggage).
"There was a certain point in that process," Atkinson said, now slapping the table in his Brooklyn office for effect, "like, 'Sean, we gotta get Jeremy.' We gotta go get him.'"
Others were unsure. Could Lin, a scoring sixth man in Charlotte, be a full-time starting point guard?
"Yes," Atkinson kept telling them. "Yes, I believe in it. Yes, yes, yes, yes."
And so, it happened, the reunion ... and in New York, no less. Good move?
Beck thinks it has a shot. He writes...
There are no quick fixes in Brooklyn, not anymore. The Nets need a lot more talent and a lot more time. But they will start with this bond, between the rookie head coach and the headstrong point guard, each with so much yet to prove—two nobodies striving to leave a legacy.
We start learning tonight.