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Jeremy Lin: Tough, Persistent and Humble

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Brooklyn Nets

Jeremy Lin recently sat down for an interview with CCTV-5, the main sports broadcaster in the People’s Republic of China, to discuss his journey in the NBA and how he got to where he is today.

Like so many who’ve "made" it in American life, the struggle is the journey.

Lin has dealt with a large dose of adversity throughout his career, first overlooked, then underestimated, often because of who he is, an Asian-American with an economics degree from Harvard. He’s unique and that makes for confused thinking.

Much of what he discussed in the interview deals with Asian-American stereotypes beginning with an example at the NBA combine...

"At first, when I was younger, I would get really mad (at critics). They always said ‘too slow, he’s not quick, I thought to myself, how is that possible? The entire NBA combine, John Wall and I were the fastest / quickest. They had the measurements. They saw that I was an Asian, (they said) ‘Oh, he must be able to shoot, but he has no athleticism.’"

That was then. Now, the stereotypes produce different head-shaking, almost comical consequences. People don’t recognize him as an NBA player when they see him in the streets. The parking attendant back in Charlotte asked what team he played for when he first arrived! He’s been stopped from entering NBA arenas by security guards.

He’s dealt with this kind of stuff his entire life but as various examples in the interview show, It’s little things that make him who he is: a tough Asian-American basketball player with a chip on his shoulder as well as an economics degree from Harvard.

Even beyond the Asian-American stereotypes, there have been times where Lin had to be persistent in chasing his dream, no matter what the critics said or what people expected. All that mattered to him was his family and his quality of life. He loved the game of basketball and his parents told him if he loved the game so much, then he should keep playing.

It was the greatest advice he’d ever received.

Still, despite his persistence there were days where he now admits he would get "depressed" and reconsider his career path, telling the CCTV-5 interviewer...

"Sometimes I wanted to quit, wanted to retire, didn’t want to play anymore," Lin continued later in the interview. "I kept telling myself, if you aren’t happy playing basketball, then just retire. Don’t have to play anymore."

But persistence, It pays off. So does hard work...

"The NBA had a lockout. All players stopped (playing). They didn’t even train / practice. They didn’t want to practice. I kept thinking, I hope this lockout take a long time (to end), so I can have a lot of time to improve. Internally, I was so motivated, because my rookie year felt so bad. I would practice by myself 3 times everyday. I practiced shooting. I had a shooting coach. I would shoot 500 jumpers with him everyday. I would practice my own basketball skills, about 250-500 (reps). 7 months, everyday. When November came, I was so bored. Everyday, it’s the same routine. I just kept thinking to myself, I’m going to have a breakout year next year."

And then it happened... Linsanity, Game 1 ... against the Nets. The "scrub" surprises with 25 points...

"They kept letting me go to my right. Here, it’s all emotion, all adrenaline. I hadn’t played for so long. Last game. So let it all out. I remember, I was so happy because I kept thinking to myself, 'they can’t cut me now.' After that game in the shower, I wasn’t sure, but possibly (I was crying) tears of joy. I called my agent and he kept yelling "Ohhhhhh!!! I knew you could do it! Now they can’t cut you! Congratulations!"

He spoke as well as Kobe Bryant, as both his tormentor before the Knicks-Lakers game when Bryant asked "Who is this kid?" at the height of Linsanity ... and Lin scored 38...

"I didn’t have a car (in NYC), so I rode in a taxi. There are TVs in NYC taxis, so I was listening to music and saw myself (on the TV) and was like 'huh?' When I heard (Kobe say what he said), I was like ‘Oh really?’ I got really mad. So I told myself, I’m going to be very, very aggressive today. I’m going to keep shooting."

Then later as his mentor in L.A. Despite all the losing —and bile— Lin learned a lot...

"I remember (Kobe) being very detailed. Every small thing, he already knows what he’s going to do. His training, his footwork, his workout, how to protect his body, he already knows everything. He’s extremely detailed. After every game, he would use his laptop to watch film on the plane. Usually, players sleep, listen to music, play cards / gamble, etc. He’s always watching film. After seeing him do that, I also started watching film after every game."

It’s easy to say: sounds like a Kenny Atkinson-type player until you remember, he already has been. Atkinson was the Knicks assistant who encouraged Lin. It does sound like what the Brooklyn Nets are all about now. And of course, he possesses a humble character that’s evident on the court or on the screen...

"I want to say to my (Chinese) fans, thank you. Seriously, it’s tough to watch our games in the morning. So I’m very grateful. I know that every year when I visit, you come to the airport to receive me. You buy and wear my jersey and give me so many different gifts. Thank you. I hope I can perform really well next year."

An attitude like that can be  infectious for a locker room. It’ll be a breath of fresh air in Brooklyn, just like the words associated with Lin in this interview: tough, persistent, hard-working and humble. They sound like everything Brooklyn’s lacked at the point guard since moving to Brooklyn. Now it’s about translating this all onto the court. It’s his time.

(BIG Thanks to NetsDaily member C_L_I_C_K for the English translation. To read more on the interview and watch it in the original Mandarin, check it out here).