Linsanity swept the world up in excitement. But it made Jeremy Lin feel empty. He enjoyed how it cemented his NBA future. He enjoyed the thrill in adding more memorable moments to a once fledgling career. He enjoyed how his work ethic proved all those NBA teams wrong that passed him up.
But that elation became only temporary. Lin then struggled through two seasons with the Houston Rockets. He eventually lost his starting position. The Rockets even featured Carmelo Anthony in mock-up uniforms wearing Lin’s No. 7 even before eventually trading him and a first and second round draft pick to the Lakers for nothing more than the rights to Sergei Lishchuk. But in a 42-minute testimony in a recent trip to Taiwain, Lin shares how he learned to better cope with such struggles because of his Christian faith.
“I can’t promise next season will go well,” Lin said. “As badly as I want it to go perfectly, I know it could also be a disaster. But the one thing I can promise is that God’s bigger and better than anything that can happen.”
Lin went into painstaking detail on how he formulated that mindset by not viewing God as “Santa Claus,” an omnipotent power that could help him play better or keep his starting job anytime he prayed about it. Instead, Lin soon viewed his Christian faith as a vehicle to better shape his attitude in both remaining humble and strong through both the joys and the struggles.
He became convinced in this message after encountering a Bible verse through his daily reading, one of his brother’s necklaces and his mother coming across the same message all within a six-week span. The verse from Joshua, Chapter 1, verse 9 read this: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and be courageous. Do not be afraid and do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Lin attributed that into helping him overcome chronic pre-game anxiety which often entailed struggling both to sleep and eat on a game-day. It also helped him stomach making a crucial late-game turnover in the Rockets’ Game 4 first-round loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.
“He showed me that even in the midst of all of my ‘failures,’ I had actually been succeeding,” Lin said. “Yes, I made a crucial turnover in a playoff game. Yes, I am not a starter anymore. My popularity ratings are as low as they’ve ever been. My stats have gone down two straight years. But God has used all of these setbacks to slowly strip me of all my idols that compete for my attention. He has gradually pealed away my pride. my selfish ambition and my self centeredness. Only by removing my idols could God draw me closer to him. Isn’t that real and true success?”
The Lakers may admire Lin’s virtues, but they obviously will measure his bottom-line results. How well could he reduce the burden on an unhealthy Steve Nash? Can Lin provide any glimpses of “Lin Sanity?” Will his defense improve?
But it appears Lin’s new outlook could help him deal with adversities surrounding any adjustments with his role and the Lakers’ rebuilding. Lin’s mental approach could complement Kobe Bryant’s demanding leadership style that will call on him toward fighting through adversity.
“Even with the constant setbacks, even with the constant trade rumors, even when my jersey number was given away, I was still so much more joyful and at peace than I was after all the worldly success of Linsanity,” said Lin.” That’s evident of a stronger relationship with God and that’s true success.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at email@example.com