Jeremy Lin Won Free Agency as Soon as He Got to Speak

Rocky SamuelsCorrespondent IIJuly 20, 2012

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 19: Jeremy Lin of the Houston Rockets speaks to the media as he is introduced during a press conference at Toyota Center on July 19, 2012 in Houston, Texas. Lin has signed a three year $25 million dollar contract with the Houston Rockets.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

Jeremy Lin has come out of free agency smelling like a rose. The waft emanating from New York Knicks owner James Dolan's office is less floral.

At Lin's introductory press conference for his new team, the Houston Rockets, Lin sounded a death knell to rumors that had already been given a beating by's Pablo S. Torre.

Torre was the first to lend print to Lin's voice following free agency. The Trademark traits of "Linsanity" were evident in that article and in Lin's subsequent press conference: humility, spirituality, gratitude and a winsome demeanor that belies all the sudden—and completely unwarranted—mudslinging he faced while he was waiting things out behind the scenes.

Before Lin's public remarks, unnamed "sources" had claimed that Lin had gotten a big head with fame, and that he was thus eager to stretch his pockets to fit his supposedly swelling ego. The Knick brass, especially Dolan, was reportedly fuming that a previously unheralded guard who was crowned as the next-big-thing under the New York lights was forgetting where he achieved glory (via Yahoo! Sports).

In his press conference with the Rockets, Lin reminded everyone who he glorifies: "I want to make sure that I play for God and I play hard."

He reinforced that point a second time: "I have always tried to play for God and that's all I'm worried about."

Of all the ad-hominem attacks Lin faced during the free agency period, it was the charge that he is money-hungry that Lin found most unsettling. In an interview with Rachel Nichols of ESPN, Lin clarified that he has other priorities above finances. 

"There were a lot of opportunities where I could have capitalized, perhaps made more money, but I wanted to focus on basketball."


To be fair to Dolan, the Knicks owner has not yet offered his own extended reflections on what transpired in his mind and behind closed doors during the deliberations over Lin. When he does, he would do well to reiterate some facts:

The Knicks told Lin to test free agency. He did. He got one offer from the Rockets that they decided to raise. Lin's people went to the Knicks with the only offer Lin had, and for reasons that Dolan knows, the Knicks decided not to match that offer.

Case closed.

There was no greedy wrangling behind the scenes. No haughty insistence on Lin's part that he was an irreplaceable point guard.

During his press conference, Lin made a frank admission in the midst of what has been a lot of boisterous and emotional debates about his ability (or supposed lack thereof.)

"I don't know my potential." Not exactly trash talk.

Indeed, listening to him reiterate his love for New York and their fans—even after some surely unrepresentative cyberthugs filled his Facebook wall with racially-insensitive comments about his departure—is a reminder of the depth of Lin's gratitude for everyone who has played a part in his inspiring journey.

Lin now gets to play for an organization that is equally thrilled with unexpected opportunities; the Rockets have brought back a player they cut before he became a phenom, and while his skills have blossomed during that absence, his humble attitude is still firmly intact.  

Indeed, there may be clouds of uncertainty hanging over Lin's basketball prowess, but one thing is clear: Jeremy Lin is a phenomenal person.  

We were all reminded of that after a week when he faced a test of character. He handled that test like a true point guard: He passed.