The 2010-11 season was bittersweet for Jeremy Lin. On one hand, he was in the NBA, a major feat on its own. He had accomplished a dream, one that produced no shortage of naysayers and doubters. This was monumental.
But on the other hand, he wasn’t. The Harvard graduate was glued to the end of the bench, saddled with frustration and self doubt. And it wasn’t like he could just hide in the shadows and collect nearly $400,000.
This was all playing out in the Bay Area, where Lin was a known commodity, a favorite son. He wasn’t getting playing time but he couldn’t escape the expectations of becoming an epic story of a local kid making good. The pressure was ever present.
The Oracle Arena crowd would chant for the coaches to put him in the game. Then when Lin would get in, the cheers reached a frenzy. And don’t let him score. Though a meaningless basket in an already decided game, the crowd would all but rush the court and put Lin on his shoulders — like he was a hero for doing something so menial.
How do you digest the appreciation for all the love and the embarrassment of being treated like a special kid? How do you remain patient and embrace the process, meanwhile the voice inside that knows you are good enough to play is constantly prodded by adoring fans?
For Lin, putting on some Lecrae for the drive home helped.
I can play the background.
I can play the background.
Because I know
I get in the way
So won’t you take lead
“Christian rap had a really big impact on me when I was a rookie at Golden State and was going through a tough time. I listened to a lot of different songs that helped me.”
Lin grew up a good Christian boy in Silicon Valley. He starred at Palo Alto High School and went onto star at Harvard. While growing as a player on the court, Lin became a leader in the Asian American Christian Fellowship.
It was while he was at Harvard that his older brother, Josh, put him up on Lecrae. He shared the classic video from the After the Music Stops album.
“I watched Lecrae’s music video “Praying for You” and that’s when I realized what it was,” Lin said. “I always knew about rap but didn’t know there was Christian rap out there.”
When Lin was a rookie with the Warriors, Stephen Curry put him up on Trip Lee and Sho Baraka. He also got his hands on Bizzle’s “The Messenger 2” mixtape.
He was pretty much hooked.
There is a lot of downtime in NBA life. Lots of flights and bus rides and prep work. The intensity and pressure increases the need for the balance of relaxation. Focus is paramount. That’s partly why NBA players keep a pair of headphones on.
But Lin also wants to keep his spirit right.
“I really enjoy hip-hop,” Lin said. “Hip-hop has some of it’s primary themes but for me to find rap with Christian lyrics was the best of both worlds for me.”