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Former Knicks Star Jeremy Lin 'Didn't Like a Lot of the Side Effects of Linsanity'

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIAugust 11, 2022

AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying

Former NBA guard Jeremy Lin spoke with Stuart Hodge of Sky Sports about a number of topics, including the effects the Linsanity era had on his personal life:

"I think for me as a person, it's been an evolution from trying to run away from it because I felt like I didn't like a lot of the side effects of Linsanity. Some family issues that it caused, all the privacy that was taken away from me overnight, and the paparazzi chasing down me and my family and my friendsโ€ฆjust a lot of scary things that had happened.

"There were also just the expectations of the world, almost turning me into some type of superhero. I became this phenomenon and I felt like I lost my humanity in the middle of it."

Lin became an overnight sensation in the winter of 2011 when he became a breakout star for the New York Knicks. He played all of 55 minutes over the first 22 games of the season but dropped 25 points and seven assists off the bench in a win over the New Jersey Nets on Feb. 4.

That kick-started a remarkable stretch of games where Lin seemingly lit up every NBA court he stepped on. He scored 38 points against Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, hit a game-winning three-pointer against the Toronto Raptors and dropped 13 assists in 26 minutes against the Sacramento Kings.

The Nets game also kick-started a seven-game winning streak for the Knicks, who eventually made the playoffs. Lin also set an NBA record by becoming the first person in league history to post at least 20 points and seven assists in his first seven starts. Over a nine-game stretch, Lin averaged 25.0 points and 9.2 dimes per game.

Lin's remarkable ascendance from little-known benchwarmer to starring in the NBA's biggest media market turned him into an overnight, worldwide celebrity. He notably landed on back-to-back covers of Sports Illustrated and was even featured on Time magazine.

As Daniel Chin of The Ringer noted, the Taiwanese American became a "a symbolic figure for both Asian Americans and Asians around the world, whether he was ready for that mantle or not."

Lin's rise to stardom opened his eyes to racial injustice throughout the world, as he told Chin:

โ€œAs I went through Linsanity, as I went through more things, I started to see the world for what it is, which is a very broken world with a lot of injustice, with a lot of racism and a lot of stereotyping. And I started to realize, this is not something I should be running from. This is something that I need to be stepping into."

The California native also spoke to Hodge about his feelings and experiences, saying in part:

"Then eventually, I started to understand racism at a better level, at a deeper level. For so long, I tried to run from being 'the Asian basketball player', I just wanted to be a great basketball playerโ€”because my whole life, everyone was just talking about [my ethnicity].

"I just wanted people to talk about my basketball skills for once, so as I started to run from that, I started to really open my perspective, seeing what racism really does and how embedded it is and how deep it is."

In his post-NBA days, Lin has done his best to spread positivity and empathy and to stop hate, speaking about against violence toward Asian Americans and partnering with LingoAce, a company designed for people to learn Mandarin and Chinese culture.

"As I'm getting older and closer to retirement, one thing that really matters to me is this concept of redefining love," the 33-year-old told Gabriel Tan of ESPN. He continued:

"Basically, when people ask me what I want to have accomplished when I'm done with my time on earth, one of the biggest things is that I want to be able to say I redefined love for the next generation.

"There is a feeling that the world is really divisive right now. There's a lot of hostility and finger-pointing and name-calling. I just want to be able to create a more unified world built around empathy."

Linsanity eventually ended, but Lin still became an incredible success story. The undrafted guard out of Harvard carved out a 10-year NBA career, averaging 11.6 points and 4.3 assists per game, that included winning an NBA ring with the Toronto Raptors in 2019. And the story of his post-NBA career has yet to be written as he looks to create an indelible and positive impact.

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