NBA star Jeremy Lin’s first season with the Houston Rockets was a disappointment. After signing a three-year, $25.1 million contract, the 24-year-old averaged just 13.4 points and 6.1 assists a game. “Linsanity,” which arose in New York after the point guard’s monster 2011-2012 season with the Knicks, didn’t take hold in Space City. This week, Lin admitted that anxiety during the season kept him from eating or sleeping on many occasions.
“I was supposed to be their new leader, the main guy to finally lead the Rockets back to the NBA playoffs,” Lin told a crowd at a youth conference in Taiwan. “You could see my face on the billboards. I thought I looked so cool. I was supposed to save Houston basketball, but most importantly I was ready to be Linsanity. As I’ve seen many times in my life, what actually happened was nothing like what I had planned.”
The Rockets did make the playoffs for the first time in four years—thanks mostly to James Harden and Chandler Parsons. Houston coaches cut down on Lin’s playing time, especially in close games late in the season, and in the playoffs, a chest contusion inhibited his ability to perform. Lin admitted his coaches were “losing faith” in him, and the criticism he received from fans and journalists wore him down.
“I felt like I had to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders,” he said. “That’s why I couldn’t eat or sleep. That’s why I was no fun to be around. I never smiled. In fact, I even cried before a game against the New Orleans Hornets because I was so anxious about losing my starting spot.”
The new NBA season kicks off on Oct. 29, and Rocket general manager Daryl Morey believes Lin can still make a difference on the team. He attributed Lin’s frustrating season on his youth and the injuries he sustained, and that this season, Lin will have the opportunity to prove he wasn’t a “one-hit-wonder” with the Knicks.
And for now, Lin has overcome his worries.
“I based my self-worth on how many points I scored or how many games I started,” he said of last season. “I based my self-esteem on being the player everybody else expected me to be. My identity should never have been based on basketball. This is when God showed me I needed an identity check.”