TAIPEI, July 30 — Basketball star Jeremy Lin broke down in tears during an emotional appearance in Taiwan when he described hitting “rock bottom” and feeling abandoned by the NBA as he languishes as a free agent.
Lin — the first Asian-American to win an NBA title — was part of the Toronto Raptors team that won the championship last season but he was often benched during the play-offs as he struggled with his form.
The man behind the “Linsanity” hysteria of 2012 became an unrestricted free agent this summer and is still without a team as the new season approaches.
Lin wept as he recounted his recent career trajectory while on stage at a church in Taiwan, from where his parents emigrated to the United States.
“Free agency has been tough because I feel like in some ways the NBA has kind of given up on me,” he told the crowd in a heartfelt interview.
He said he had waited years to play for the Raptors but felt his time with the team was his “worst shooting of his entire career”. Lin averaged only 3.4 minutes in the play-offs and one minute on the court during the championship finals.
Free agency was “the last straw that broke the camel’s back”, he said, after which he hung his head and cried.
“Every year it gets harder,” Lin added after he managed to compose himself.
“In English there’s a saying, it says once you hit rock bottom, the only way is up but rock bottom just seems to keep getting more and more rock bottom for me.”
Lin, a devout Christian, was speaking at a New Taipei City Sunday church event which was also broadcast on the religious channel Good TV.
Lin has struggled with injuries and inconsistency since he sparked “Linsanity” for the New Yorks Knicks in 2012 when he led them to a seven-game win streak to level their record at 15-15.
That season elevated his stardom far beyond the US to Asia, where basketball has a huge following even though there has long been a shortage in Asian NBA players.
In 2017, Lin suffered a serious knee injury while playing for the Brooklyn Nets.
“I’m here to just tell you don’t give up,” Lin told the 2,000 fans and congregation members who turned up to hear him speak.
The Harvard graduate point guard started his professional career in 2010 with his hometown Golden State Warriors.
He has played for eight teams in his nine-year professional career including the Knicks, Houston Rockets, L.A. Lakers and Charlotte Hornets. — AFP