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It was nine years ago last week that Jeremy Lin burst onto the scene with the Knicks, scoring 25 points in a win over the Nets — a performance that triggered “Linsanity.”
Now, the 32-year-old Lin is trying to get back to the NBA by playing in the G League. He’s on the Santa Cruz Warriors roster after spending last season playing — and thriving — in China.
He was close to returning to the CBA in China, where he played for the Beijing Ducks last season, before ultimately choosing the G League in his pursuit to rejoin the NBA.
“I think it became really clear after free agency passed and I wasn’t able to get a contract, there was no way I was gonna get a contract basically unless I go and show it,’’ Lin told Stadium. “I played last year in the CBA [in China] and had a good year and have been healthy two straight seasons, but there are still so many questions about my body and my health from league executives. For me, I had to go and play in the G League.”
And he knows it’s going to be difficult for him to overcome that perception.
“It’s gonna take everything I have,’’ Lin said. “Because at the end of the day…what I was blessed to have last season [in China] and the offers I had this year, people think I’m crazy for not going back to the CBA.”
Lin reportedly made $3 million with the Ducks and is due to make just a fraction of that with the Golden State Warriors’ G League team.
“It was one of the toughest decisions of my life,” Lin said of going to the G League. “It took four months to make this decision because of so much stuff going on and the uncertainty [surrounding it]… at the end of the day, I decided I wanted to give an NBA comeback a serious look and I wanted to give myself the best opportunity.”
The Santa Cruz Warriors open their season Wednesday in the G League bubble in Orlando, Fla. It’s a long way from Madison Square Garden, where Lin became a star during a 13-game stretch in 2012, averaging 22.3 points and nine assists per game, highlighted by a 38-point performance against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The run ended when Lin had knee surgery in March and he signed with the Houston Rockets that offseason.
Lin told Stadium the lessons he learned from his time with the Knicks mean “everything” to him. For now, though, he’s just looking for another chance.
“There are definitely negative thoughts and fears I always have to fight,” Lin said. “If you look at it on paper, you could say on my first day as a professional basketball player as a rookie, I was ahead of where I am now, 11 years in… That’s definitely a test. It’s how badly do I want to prove it? How badly do I want it? It will definitely take a lot of perseverance.”