Culture At Large

Jeremy Lin on Linsanity, God and athlete egos

Josh Larsen

Ever since coming off the bench for the 2011-2012 New York Knicks and unexpectedly leading the team on a buzzer-beating win streak, NBA guard Jeremy Lin has become a media star - mostly for those on-court accomplishments but also, in some quarters, for his open Christian faith.

Now on the Houston Rockets, Lin is back in the news as the NBA prepares to open its season and a new documentary on his sudden rise, titled Linsanity, hits theaters. In a recent Slate interview, Lin spoke about the whirlwind of the past 18 months and - in his quiet yet persistent way - how his style of play is influenced by his Christianity. Some excerpts:

On balancing humility with confidence as a professional athlete: “I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. You can be humble in the sense that you treat everybody with respect, you care genuinely about your teammates, you care genuinely about team success. But at the same time, you can also be realistic and say, ‘This is what I’m really good at, this is what I’m not really good at, this is my strength, this is what I’m capable of, and when I get out on the court, I’m going to do what I’m best at.’”

On the “killer instinct” often attributed to the game’s greatest players: “At the end of the day, you can be extremely competitive, and that still doesn’t clash. The game could be on the line, and you can be like, ‘I’m going to hit the game-winner. I’m going to take this shot, and I’m going to make sure that we win.’ I think having that ability and having that confidence is good. There’s a difference between that, and saying, ‘I knew it was going in,’ or making fun of other people. You hear that all the time. You hear guys inflating themselves. I think that’s just a part of the game that … It’s fine, it’s OK, but it’s not everyone’s style.”

On the events that led to Linsanity: “In many ways, the longer I live, I understand that there are so many things outside my control. That’s why I believe faith is such a big part of the story. There are so many things that were orchestrated by God, that were put into place to make this perfect storm, that created Linsanity. …I watch the documentary when things aren’t going well, and I’m frustrated, and I’m asking questions, and I’m wondering, ‘Why is it happening this way? Why am I in this situation?’ And I watch it to remind myself God has been faithful to me over and over and over, again and again and again. Sometimes that’s just the dose of reality, the refreshment or encouragement that I need, to be able to get back on track.”

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