The distance from the Staples Center court to the chartered bus waiting on Chick Hearn Court is about 120 yards, and Jeremy Lin makes his way at an easy pace, virtually unimpeded.
Jeremy Lin said of trading his life in New York for one in Houston, "It's really, really low-key."
There are no television cameras in his path, no protective team officials trailing him, just Lin and two reporters making the easy stroll up the ramp. He is relaxed, smiling.
This is life post-Linsanity. For the first time since he burst onto the scene in February with the Knicks, Lin, now a member of the Houston Rockets, looks like just another eager young prospect, diligently working to find his way in the N.B.A.
"It's really, really low-key," Lin said Sunday morning after the Rockets' shootaround. "And it's really peaceful. When I walk around, I don't wear a hat or glasses or anything -- unless I want to."
It is easy to forget -- after all the frenzy and the furor and the fanfare -- that Lin is only 24 years old, with 34 starts to his credit, and a vast, unscripted future before him. Those three weeks of brilliant basketball last season (followed by three weeks of merely solid basketball) made Lin an international sensation. But they did not define him, and they will not represent the final word on his career.
When the Knicks declined to match a three-year, $25 million contract offer Houston made to Lin last summer, he was effectively freed from the burdens of his unwieldy fame. He is a star in the Hollywood sense, but not in basketball terms, and the move to Houston has allowed him to focus more squarely on his development. And there is much developing yet to do.
Through the first nine games of the season, Lin was averaging 10.9 points and 6.7 assists -- solid, but not eye-popping or pun-worthy, and far from the 18.5 points and 7.6 assists he averaged as a Knicks starter. He was shooting 35.5 percent from the field, also a decline from last season.
In New York, the slow start would set off a panic and an endless stretch of back-page headlines. In Houston, it is merely taken as a sign of a young player on a young team in search of an identity.
For the modest, soft-spoken Lin, it is surely a healthier environment. As much as he enjoyed his turn on the Broadway stage, Lin is not naturally inclined to seek the spotlight. He turned away countless interview requests and endorsement offers last season, and he recently acknowledged that he "went into a shell" during the height of his fame.
"I think the beautiful thing about this opportunity is there's less of a spotlight," Lin said. "There's room to grow, room to improve, growing pains, things like that -- the stuff that has to happen with each player. I've only started 30-something games in three years in my whole career. There's a lot of sophomores out there with more experience than me. I'm going to have to go through a lot to get better."
The Rockets are going through their own considerable growing pains. After making a furious run at Dwight Howard, and missing out, the Rockets turned over nearly the entire roster, rebuilding around Lin, James Harden and Omer Asik. They were 4-5 heading into Sunday night's game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Source: The New York Times | HOWARD BECK