TrueHoop: J.A. Adande

Jeremy Lin on Jason Collins: 'A big step'

February, 23, 2014
Feb 23
Adande By J.A. Adande

Two years after Linsanity, the month that took him to dizzying heights never before reached by an Asian American player in the NBA, Jeremy Lin offered his perspective on Jason Collins, the first openly gay player in the four major American professional team sports.

"I think it's definitely a big step," Lin said after the Houston Rockets' morning shootaround before their game at the Phoenix Suns. "The game is evolving. You see a lot of different people breaking barriers in a lot of different ways. This is just another one of those."

Collins signed a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday. But Collins won't just be playing for the Nets ... or for himself ... or for his family. Collins now carries the hopes of the gay community with him, an additional responsibility that Lin handled as a representative for Asian Americans.

"It was definitely not easy," Lin said. "For me, if I didn't have faith, in terms of my Christianity, I'm not sure how I would have been able to handle it or understand it or process it. For me, I try to think of it as living or stewarding God's platform. That's kind of how I approached it."

Only a handful of reporters faced Lin as he spoke, a big drop off from the media throngs he attracted when he averaged 21 points per game at the height of Linsanity in February 2012. Lin is averaging 13.1 points per game in his second season with the Houston Rockets and recently moved to a reserve following the return of Pat Beverley from injury. Just as Collins will receive more attention than the typical player on a 10-day contract, Lin has found that he can't recede completely into the background.

"When I'm with my friends and family back home, it's as normal as it will ever be," Lin said. "But I think I'm getting used to a lot of the changes."
By J.A. Adande

Deep down in the whispery regions of the NBA, there are concerns that the seeds for the 2010 free agency crop were planted in the summers of 2006, 2007 and 2008.

It’s a widespread assumption in the NBA that tampering happens all around the league; overtures are made to agents, conversations are had in passing with players. One Western Conference executive said the practice is so common that if the league policed it the way the NCAA handles recruiting violations, “There’d be teams getting the ‘death penalty.’” But formal tampering claims are very rarely brought to the NBA offices because they are too difficult to prove.

If LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh end up with the New York Knicks next summer expect some grumbling from their jilted former team that the Knicks had an unfair advantage because coach Mike D’Antoni had three summers to woo them while serving as an assistant on the USA Basketball staff at the World Championships, Tournament of the Americas and Olympics.

In the absence of proof there’s only imagination, and the thought of a coach with unmonitored access to players has allowed all kinds of scenarios to run through rival executives’ heads. They suggest that the only way to ease the fears would be to have the USA Basketball coaching staff consist entirely of college coaches and/or out-of-the-league coaches (current examples would be Doug Collins, Avery Johnson and Mike Fratello.)

“I find that kind of ironic,” USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo said. “Not long ago there were people saying there shouldn’t be any college coaches. When you hear things like you hear, you have to really analyze the source. Everyone is so concerned about their own little world. It’s ludicrous, in my opinion, to have those concerns.”

Colangelo, who has a book about USA Basketball entitled “Return of The Gold” coming out, said, “We turned around a culture, we turned around a whole program. There’s some people taking shots at the staff … that’s very disappointing to me.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty [about the upcoming free agency summer]. There’s a lot of unrest. People will look for excuses. I personally don’t give that any credence.”

And it won’t have any influence on the next Olympic team. D’Antoni and the rest of the staff from 2008 Olympics – head coach Mike Krzyzewski of Duke and assistants Nate McMillan of the Portland Trail Blazers and Jim Boeheim of Syracuse University – will be back for the 2012 Games in London.

For anyone concerned about the presence of D’Antoni or McMillan on that team, Colangelo says, “My word to those guys is: get a life.”