Jeremy Lin lost a basketball season. He got an education.
The torn patellar tendon in his right knee that ended Lin’s 2017-18 season on opening night in Indiana sent him down an unusual path to re-examine and eventually rebuild everything about the way he played basketball.
Lin spent much of the season in Vancouver at Fortius Sport & Health, rejoining the Nets late in the season and impressing coach Kenny Atkinson with his progress during some pregame workouts. He met the media Thursday afternoon at HSS Training Center after a season-closing team meeting.
“I’m looking at whether I have done enough to completely change pre-existing movement patterns,” said Lin. “Everything down to my shot, the way I run, the way I defend, the way I move. Cut, accelerate, decelerate, everything. It won’t look to the eye or on TV any different, but it will be very different in terms of how I do it and where I moved from and what muscles I’m using and what tendons and joints I’m not using.
“I definitely learned more about science and anatomy than I ever thought I would. But I’m excited and I feel like I’m moving better and it’s going to help my game.”
In looking for answers after the injury, Lin turned to Fortius. Founder Rick Celebrini had worked with Steve Nash during Lin’s time with the Lakers. But Nash’s workouts at the time were beyond what Lin could do.
To get where he wanted to go, Lin essentially had to break away from 29 years of muscle memory and start from scratch.
“There’s principles that make a lot of sense intuitively,” said Lin. “You want to move from your core. You want to reach. You want to push. You want to make sure that you’re sinking into your hips. You’re using your strongest muscles on your body. You’re using your quads and your glutes, not your knees basically, and things like that. There’s a lot of movement philosophy behind what I’ve been learning.”
From a distance, Lin kept tabs on the Nets throughout the year.
“It’s easier to be away than to be here, because when I’m here, it hurts more I guess,” said Lin. “Like when I have to watch a game and know I can’t play, that hurts a lot more than if I’m just watching on TV. If I’m around the guys I feel the pain of a loss or a losing streak. That hurts a lot more if I’m in that locker room than if I’m not. I think I also need to mentally rest as well.
“Last year was a tough year with the up and down roller coaster. It was like déjà vu. But in no way was I disconnected with the team. I probably talked to them more, I texted with my teammates and coaches more than I even wanted to. It was just a lot of communication that was really good. They were sending people out, I was visiting them. It was how it was supposed to be.”
Now he’s back and planning on making Brooklyn his home base for the summer. He’ll continue to collaborate with Fortius both here and with some visits to Vancouver. And he’ll have several trips to Asia, rather than the single longer trip he’s traditionally taken.
In terms of progress, the next step is being cleared for contact, and then he’s ready for real basketball action. Lin is looking forward to being on the court with teammates, but not looking ahead too much to how the lineup will look next season. He knows the team’s defense needs to improve, and he’s looking forward to being a leader in that area.
And after the Nets added eight wins to the ledger this season compared to a year ago, like his teammates, he wants to be part of more progress in 2018-19.
“I don’t love moral victories,” said Lin. “We just need to win more games. Hopefully win a lot. That’s really the only thing that, at the end of the day, when it comes down to a ballclub, you’re looking at how you did, where you were in the standings, how many wins you’ve got. That’s really the end-all, be-all I feel like.”