Ready To Roll
HOUSTON - After a whirlwind summer that took Jeremy Lin around the world, the Rockets' point guard is now back in Houston ready to get to work with his new teammates.
Lin met with the Houston media today -- his first such appearance Stateside since his introductory press conference in July -- and what follows is a transcript of the event.
Is this a reminder of how crazy things can get?
JL: No, I was in Asia and this is nothing compared to Asia. Just kidding. It’s good to be back and good to be back in Houston.
What was it like in Asia?
JL: It was just busy. There were a lot of different things going on. I had a lot of fun, and now fun time is kind of over and (it’s time to get) back into practicing and getting ready for training camp.
Have you thought about what life will be like not being under the microscope that basically made you a prisoner of your fame comes in New York?
JL: I wouldn’t say I was that much of a prisoner in New York, but I think here it’s just a little different. I’m enjoying it so far. It’s a beautiful city, nice roads, big trees and a lot of space, so I enjoy that.
What about your role in Kevin McHale’s offense?
JL: Just be aggressive and then have fun and make a good decision. That’s what I’m going to try to do is be aggressive. I’m going to make a lot of mistakes so hopefully I learn from them and move forward.
Are you off of Chandler’s couch yet and is your furniture here yet?
JL: Not yet, but I’m going to go get some furniture soon. That’s my No. 1 priority.
What’s your health status?
JL: I’m good to go. I got to play today, will play tomorrow and everything’s fine.
What have you done this summer to improve your game and who have you worked out with?
JL: It’s just my same coaches from last summer. So I had a shooting coach, a skills coach, an upper body coach and a lower body coach. I lost ten pounds which would be good for my knee. I’m pretty much the same strength-wise, so it’s good – I’m just lighter. Then I did a lot of outside shooting and a lot of left-handed stuff.
What kinds of things have you done differently to prepare for this season?
JL: Last year I actually had a real season under my belt where I got to play and see what works and doesn’t work; exactly which spots I had trouble shooting from; what were my tendencies where I got a lot of my turnovers – so just re-creating those systems in the workouts and working on them.
Is there a burden to being the so-called face of the franchise?
JL: I don’t know if I’m the face of the franchise just yet. I think we’re a young team and we’re all going to buy-in. The thing about us is it’s not going to be any one person who’s going to carry us to where we want to go – it’s going to be everybody. I think it’s so early on and I’m just trying to get to know the guys.
Is there a burden of leadership?
JL: Definitely you want to lead by example and I think more so this year than last year or the year before, kind of coming in as a non-guarantee or partial guarantee guy. Now there’s more stability so I need to be more of a vocal leader and hopefully lead through work ethic and example.
How much time have you been able to spend with your new teammates?
JL: Just today. When I had the press conference here in Houston (in July) I got to spend a little time with Chandler but today, just getting to know the guys we had a lot of fun. The guys are actually really, really cool. I’m really glad and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun this season.
Do you think it’s going to be a point of emphasis this season to recognize that even though this is a young team its goals will be exactly the same as any other team’s when you step out on the court?
JL: Yeah, we’re not coming into it expecting to lose or expecting to do bad. I actually think it’s cool that we’re under the radar. That’s kind of been in some ways the story of my life – going under the radar. I think I’m comfortable there and I think this team is comfortable where we are, and the commitment level, guys getting out here early and working hard, that shows a lot.
What’s the biggest thing you learned in New York?
JL: The biggest thing, I would just say (learning) what it takes to be consistent every night and to do well every night. It’s one thing to do it well once a week or twice a week, but to do it three or four times a week takes a lot of mental focus. Even the little things: what you eat, how you sleep, when you sleep, the length of your naps – things like that you wouldn’t even realize, all the little things they really contribute.
Have you had a chance to reflect back on how things have changed over the past year?
JL: Every once in awhile I’ll take a look back and be like, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.’ I had one of those moments this morning, just sitting in the training room with the big Houston Rockets logo and I was just appreciating the fact that I get to wake up and play basketball for a living; even the whole NBA thing, yes Houston, but just to be able to play basketball for your job – those are things I try to remind myself of every day.
What did Yao tell you about the city of Houston?
JL: We haven’t had a chance to really talk in depth about anything regarding Houston, but he just said welcome and he said, ‘Anything you need, feel free to reach out and let me know.’ It was pretty short. I haven’t had a chance to ask him about any specifics.
Do you almost feel like you’re a seasoned veteran now because of your experience in New York?
JL: No, because I think I have more experience, but I don’t think I’m seasoned. I’ve only played 50 career games or so in the NBA. I have a lot to learn. Chandler’s probably played more games than I have. So I have a lot to learn and I think Coach McHale has done a great job of getting everybody on the same page. The way he talks, getting everybody ready to work – I think he’s going to be the guy we really feed off of and look up to.
Are you mentally and physically ready for an 82 game season?
JL: Part of it is you just have to go through it – you can only prepare so much. But one thing I will say is I was looking at the schedule and there’s a lot more rest between games than last year. Last year, playing four in seven (days) and five in seven (days), I think that took its toll on everybody’s bodies. I think this year I’ll have a lot more time to rest, recover, get reps up in between games.
When were you medically cleared to resume workouts?
JL: After the season, I went back to California so there was never one day where I was medically allowed to. I would just guage … It was just like a build up, right, so one day I could do this, then try to do that and just build on to the next thing. I would say maybe two months after I got back to California …
You could then do whatever you wanted to do?
JL: I could just play all-out and play consistently.
So that was around early July?
JL: Yeah, I think July was around the first time I dunked since surgery. Things like that, those are signs that you’re on your way back.
Have you been able to do as much work as you would have wanted to to get ready for the season?
JL: Not early in the summer. But later in the summer, the last month or two, has been as much as my body can handle in terms of energy – not really focused on the knee as much, but more how much energy do I have?
So where are you in terms of training?
JL: I’m good. I feel good. I feel healthy and lighter, so I’m excited.
What do you make of the roster being so young?
JL: It’s all about, to me, you can look on paper and you can think one thing or the other, but if you have a bunch of guys who care about the team and who work hard and are willing to put the work in, building that chemistry and culture is so important and I think we’re headed in the right direction. I think, obviously we’ll have times where our youth will come into play and we’re going to have to learn. But if we learn then we’ll be OK. I think what Oklahoma did, where every year they got better and every year they got farther, hopefully we can start to do that, get better every year, get more and more comfortable with each year and with Coach McHale’s system.
How does it feel to be part of the Asian-American community here in Houston?
JL: It feels great. My manager was telling me about the cool support that the Asian-American fan clubs have put together. I’m obviously very thankful to them and the non Asian-American fans as well – I think everybody has made me feel embraced in Houston so I’m very thankful for that.
Have you been to Chinatown yet?
JL: Not yet. I got in yesterday so I’ve got to get that bed taken care of so I can sleep well (laughs).
Are you prepared to deal with the pressure that comes with being the face of the franchise?
JL: I’m not really too worried about the attention in terms of the outside. I’m going to approach it realistically. I’m going to know that there’s going to be hurdles and obstacles but I think if I can wake up every day and know that I’m playing for the right reasons and doing the right things, I’ll be OK and I think the team will be, too. Hopefully we get to surprise a lot of people.
Do you embrace that face of the franchise role, though?
JL: Well, like I said earlier, I’m not sure I’m ready to be called the face of any franchise. I think I have a lot more to do and a lot more to work on. I have a lot more games that I need to perform in for me to really accept any big role or title or whatever you want to call it.
What do you think of the rookies the Rockets drafted?
JL: They’re good. They’re athletic. I haven’t had a chance to meet Royce but I saw Terrence and Jeremy today. Definitely going to have some confusion in practice: Jeremy Lamb and Jeremy Lin (laughs).
What’s the biggest thing you still have to work on with your game?
JL: The biggest one would probably be a tie between just everything left(-handed) and then efficient, quick decisions, especially in traffic.
How much more comfortable are you with your game compared to a year ago?
JL: I’m a lot more comfortable just because I saw what worked last year, so I have a foundation. I know what works for me, now how can I make myself more dangerous.
How much did you learn from your experience in New York?
JL: I learned a lot in New York. It happened so fast. I think I learned about basketball but I think I learned a lot about people and learned a lot about life – that was huge. On the outside looking in, it might have been all the glitz and the glamour but it was really tough for me to handle everything from all aspects so I definitely learned a lot.
How happy are you to be back in Houston?
JL: I’m very happy. I think this is huge. I was actually really excited to come out here early, get settled in and meet everybody and get going. Like I said, I really like the guys – I think they’re really cool. So I think we’re going to have a lot of fun this year.
What did you see from the team during Summer League?
JL: One, a lot of our players can do a lot of different things. If you talk about the young guys, they can do multiple things: they can pass, they can score, they’re young, they’re athletic, they’re fast. So we just need to find a way to put it all together, get different lineups that work and then just implement it into a high octane offense while defending at the same time, using speed to be our strength and our identity on defense.
How did Chandler’s sofa stack up against others you’ve been on?
JL: It was nice (laughs). I would rank it as in between my brother’s and Landry (Fields’), a close second to my brother’s. Landry’s is pretty far below – that one was a little small (laughs).