PALO ALTO, Calif. (BP) — Jeremy Lin was waived twice last December — first by the Golden State Warriors and then by the Houston Rockets.
This week, the player who had a hard time finding employment in the NBA learned that he was Houston-bound, since the New York Knicks would not match the three-year, $25.1 million contract offered by the Rockets.
Lin — whose outspoken comments about his faith won him fans in the Christian community — already had a hunch that the Knicks were headed in another direction at the point guard position. Earlier in July, the team signed Jason Kidd. Then, on Sunday (July 15), according to Sports Illustrated, Lin read an online report that said the Knicks were pursuing Raymond Felton. That report turned out to be true, and New York signed Felton the following day.
“Felton’s signing was the first time when I thought, ‘Oh, wow, I might not be a Knick,'” Lin told SI.
The 23-year-old Lin took the sports world by storm last season, leading the Knicks to a seven-game winning streak that turned their season around.
“Linsanity” was born.
But Lin’s season ended in late March with a torn meniscus in his left knee. That led to surgery in April. But the Rockets saw enough in the 35 games (14.6 points and 6.2 assists per game) Lin played for the Knicks to offer him the big contract.
As much as he hated to say goodbye to the fans in New York, he took to Twitter to express how he felt about rejoining the Rockets.
“Extremely excited and honored to be a Houston Rocket again!!” he tweeted.
He also released a statement to let Knicks fans know how much he appreciated them and the time he spent with the team.
“I loved this past year with the Knicks and truly appreciate the opportunity that New York gave me,” Lin said. “The way the fans fully embraced me and our team was something I’ll always cherish forever. It was an extraordinary and unforgettable time that was easily the best year of my life.
“Now I am excited to be back with the Rockets. They made a very compelling pitch in terms of what I could bring to the team and for the city. I am also impressed with [Houston owner Leslie] Alexander and the management’s commitment to improving the team. I’m excited about contributing to the Rockets winning tradition and competing with my new teammates.”
There is more to Lin, though, than big contracts and clutch buzzer beaters. Those who visit his Twitter page see his bio that says “to know Him is to want to know Him more.”
Lin is the son of Christian Taiwanese immigrants who settled in California. He became a Christian as a freshman in high school and matured in his faith while playing at Harvard from 2006-10. He was an active member of the Harvard-Radcliffe Asian American Christian Fellowship, meeting regularly with Adrian Tam, an InterVarsity campus staff member at the time. The two studied the Bible together and read books together.
“First and foremost, he is a disciple of Christ,” Tam told Baptist Press about Lin in February. “That becomes very evident from the beginning. When you meet him you don’t think, ‘Oh wow, this must be an important person.’ He’s very humble. In some ways, you might even think he downplays a lot of these things — his intellect, his ability and all that.”
Tam said Lin’s goal and quiet ambition was to be “not only the best basketball player he could be, but also to be the best Christ-follower he could be.”
Stephen Chen, Lin’s pastor at Redeemer Bible Fellowship in Mountain View, Calif., described Lin’s faith in a video interview with the Associated Press in February.
“He loves the Gospel,” Chen said. “He loves giving other people hope and showing them that life is more than riches. Faith is not something that is important to him, it’s really who he is.
“I think sometimes people want to label him as Chinese-American phenom, or as an underdog, but I think if you were to talk with him, he would probably say his identity is in Christ, first and foremost. And that is who he is.”
Lee Warren is a freelance writer and frequent Baptist Press contributor based in Omaha, Neb. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).