It took a while at first for Kobe Bryant to know about Jeremy Lin. He experienced a circuitous journey toiling in the Development League, while both Golden State and Houston waived him. Even on the cusp of “Linsanity” in which the first American-born NBA player of Taiwanese descent took the New York Knicks by storm, Bryant still professed ignorance about him.
A day later, Lin helped the New York Knicks carve up the Lakers with a career-high 38 points, a topic he said he has addressed at least 500 times in a recent visit to Taiwan shortly after the Lakers acquired him in a trade from Houston. Perhaps that is why Bryant hardly wasted anytime connecting with Lin despite remaining in different time zones.
“One thing he told me was we have a lot of work to do and that’s 100 percent accurate,” Lin said Thursday at an introductory press conference at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo. “As long as we come in with that mindset of coming to work and understanding that we have to earn everything, I think we’ll be okay.”
Both Bryant and Lin have plenty to prove. Bryant wants to show he can restore his game back to an elite level after two major injuries in his left Achilles tendon and left knee sidelined him last season for all but six games. Lin wants to show he can restore his game without feeling pressure into providing another sequel toward “Linsanity.” Both will have a tall task in rebuilding the Lakers after finishing last season with the worst record in L.A. franchise history.
To do that, Lin sounded giddy about leaning on Bryant. He’s already well aware of Bryant considering his unmatched popularity in Asia. But after going through last season in which he credited his Christian faith sharpening his mental toughness, Lin believes Bryant could become another savoir of sorts.
“One of the things that the outside audience don’t get to see as much or appreciate out of much of the professional athlete is the mental side,” Lin said. “People don’t fully understand how much of a mental game professionals sports is. I think with Kobe, anybody who wins as much as he does definitely has the mental edge on everybody else. That’s something I would love to learn.”
It appears likely Bryant will share more lessons.
Lin has devoted his offseason perfecting a floating jump shot and trying to stay in “attack mode” albeit with a controlled pace. Lin maintains a disciplined albeit unspecified training regiment, though he believes Bryant could share additional nuances with his routine. Even though Lin said he has never tried to emulate Bryant’s game because of his superior skills, both could relate to each other with their underdog mentality. It also appears telling that Lin listed Carmelo Anthony, James Harden and Bryant as great players he will team up with, while omitting former Lakers center Dwight Howard.
“”I’m not trying to be a player from the past,” Lin said. “I’m trying to make history again. It’s not so much about me trying to be something that happened before hand. I’ll be a much bigger and better player than ever before.”
And as Lin pursues that goal, Bryant will likely lend a helping hand.
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org