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Jeremy Lin promises to be ‘new me,’ won’t sacrifice his ‘downhill’ style

Los Angeles Lakers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images

Not only was Brook Lopez back in Brooklyn Friday night. So was Jeremy Lin, in town from suburban Vancouver where he’s been rehabbing at Fortius Sport & Health, a training facility with ties to Lin pal Steve Nash.

While Lin admits his recovery and rehab from a ruptured patella tendon has been tough —I’m walking nowadays,” Lin said. “There was a time when I couldn’t — he hopes to “retrain” his body so that he doesn’t give up his aggressive style while learning how to better absorb the shock of normal athletic play.

“I’m not going to change the bread and butter of who I am which is downhill, attacking, dynamic playmaking. I’ll always be that player,” Lin said Friday night. “What we’ll see is probably a similar style, but in a safer way. I’ll still be in the paint heavy, but I won’t be landing on my legs the same way, getting off-balance unless obviously I’m forced to. But the landing, taking contact, being able to engage certain muscles before contact, before I take off, all those things are really important...

“We’re fixing everything so I can look close to picture-perfect,” Lin added. “Perfection in this situation is kind of a ghost, but it’s as much improvement as you can get. You reduce chances of injury, and I’m also going to be more explosive and faster and more on balance because of it.”

Asked by Brian Lewis if he expects to be back for training camp in October, he responded, “You talking about training camp? Shoot. If I am not, there’s issues,” said Lin, once again confirming his intention not to exercise his player option and become a free agent.

Many pro athletes —but few basketball players— have had similar injuries and there is a mixed record on their recovery. The last two NBA players with ruptured patella tendons had completely different outcomes. Caron Butler, who went down at the same age as Lin in 2011, recovered nicely and played all but three games the next season. Kelenna Azubuike, injured two years earlier, had to have two surgeries and was never the same, playing only three more games in his once promising NBA career.

Of course, sports science is always evolving and every injury is different.

“History is not really something that is super-appealing to me right now,” he said. “I don’t want to get caught up in someone else’s journey. I feel like I am ready to take on this thing, and when I get healthy, I will be a new me.”

He and the Nets insist their odd arrangement —rehabbing 3,000 miles away in another country— is working well with Lin saying the Nets are aware of everything that’s going on and supportive.

“I’m finding Fortius and the Nets talk all the time,” Lin said. “They have calls, and we have strength coaches texting back and forth and sending videos. We have Nets people coming out and visiting. We have more staff members coming out there at All-Star break. So there’s a big-time collaboration.

“I feel like a diva with how much they’re communicating and every little thing gets passed on to every single person down the line.”

Kenny Atkinson says that while Lin is far away, he is intensely interested in what the Nets are doing.

‘He’s not just sitting there doing his own thing, he’s always hitting me with stuff after the game.‘You could’ve done this, you could’ve done that’, it’s great. And I know our medical team is all over him. He’s in a really good place, he’s happy with how he’s progressing.”

In addition to the training staff check-ups, Lin is also getting medical check-ups with Dr. Riley J. Williams, his surgeon and the Nets medical director.

Of course, if Lin does return better than new, it will make for an even greater logjam in the backcourt, but as Kenny Atkinson has said, that’s not a bad problem to have. And as Lin has noted, Steve Nash’s two MVP seasons came after he passed his 30th birthday.