Sunday, July 13, 2014

Jeremy Lin is heading back to California.

I'm going to begin this by saying I don't like the Lakers. I never have, never will. Ever since the 2002 Western Conference Finals and then later meeting Kobe Bryant in college at the gym (he was a complete jerk), I just cannot stand purple and gold.

But now they've gone and signed Jeremy Lin, and I'm absolutely torn.

Lin, the first Taiwanese-American professional basketball player in the NBA, become an international sensation in 2012 after nearly being cut by the New York Knicks, averaging more than 20 points and nearly nine assists in the dozen games he started in.

I had just moved to New York City when "Linsanity" hit, and it was electrifying. I've always loved the NBA, but watching Lin play brought back every feeling I had as a kid watching the Kings' starting dream team dominate Arco Arena: Bibby, Webber, Stojakovic. (For more of my long-time love affair with the Sacramento Kings, read here.)

But since being traded to the Rockets at the end of the 2012 season, Lin struggled to perform at the same level that created “Linsanity” in New York. In his first year in Houston, Lin started all 82 games, but ended the season well-below expectations. “I'll be my harshest critic but I'll go ahead and say it: I'm doing terrible,” Lin admitted after a December 2012 game against the Toronto Raptors.

This past season with the Rockets, Lin started in less than half of the games he played.

The Rockets made it no secret they weren't interested in keeping Lin around. Why else would they plaster up a photo of Carmelo Anthony to woo him to Houston, showing him in a No. 7 Rockets jersey? Ouch.

So now Lin, a California native, will head to L.A., where he will share a court with Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who famously dismissed Lin early in 2012 before a game against the Knicks. “I know who he is, but I don’t really know what’s going on with that,” Bryant said in a locker room interview when a reporter compared Lin to Bryant’s younger self. “I don't even know what he has done. I have no idea what you guys are talking about.”

The next night, Lin led the Knicks to a 92-85 win over the Lakers, and scored a new career-high of 38 points with seven assists.

Lin’s arrival in Los Angeles comes after a rough season for the Lakers, who failed to advance to the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2005.
When the Lakers begin their 2014 season, they’ll be doing so with a new head coach, a new roster of stars, including second-round draft pick Jordan Clarkson, who, as Jeff Yang points out, is only the third player of Filipino descent to be drafted into the NBA and now gives the Lakers two strong Asian-American players in the nation’s largest Asian American television market.

Smart move, L.A. And I'll admit, I'll be watching when Lin suits up, but I still don't think I can root for the Lakers.

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