After a year of playing overseas, former NBA star Jeremy Lin will join the Santa Cruz Warriors.
The former Golden State Warrior has not played in the NBA since the 2019 playoffs and seeks to revitalize his NBA career in Santa Cruz.
The Santa Cruz Warriors are the G league affiliate of the Golden State Warriors, one of 28 such teams. The G League is the minor league for younger players or players on the edge of joining the NBA to compete in hopes of getting an NBA contract — a hope UC Santa Cruz student Jeremiah Joson shares.
“It’s cool that he’s finally back in the NBA system,” Joson said. “He was too talented to be playing overseas and hopefully he can make his way back onto an NBA roster after his stint with the SC Warriors.”
Santa Cruz Warriors General Manager Ryan Atkinson says Lin will give the Warriors a smart presence that can pass, score, and attack the basket.
“He’s an NBA champion. He’s seen the game on different levels. The thing with Jeremy is he’s going to be someone that the guys can talk to because he’s been in those situations before,” Atkinson said. “He went undrafted. He had to fight tooth and nail to make a training camp, to make a team.”
Last season Lin played in the Chinese Basketball Association, averaging 22.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists for the Beijing Ducks. Lin spent the past three years recovering after he ruptured his patellar tendon during the 2017 Nets season opener. After Lin’s successful season in China, the Santa Cruz Warriors and Atkinson decided to offer him a deal.
Lin began his 11-year professional career on the Dallas Mavericks summer league team, then moved to the Golden State Warriors prior to the 2011 season. After his season with the Warriors, the New York Knicks picked Lin up to strengthen their guard depth.
Lin’s big break came in February of 2012, when he came in during the second half to lead the Knicks to a surprise win over the then New Jersey Nets.
The next game, Lin started and carried the Knicks to another victory against the Utah Jazz. Riding a three-game winning streak, Lin and the Knicks faced Kobe Bryant’s team six days later. Lin rose to the challenge, dropping 38 points and seven assists.
Jonathan Macri, a Knicks reporter, podcaster, and author of the Knicks Film School newsletter, remembers Lin’s rise to stardom in the early 2010s, a period dubbed “Linsanity” by the media.
“After the Laker game there was a feeling of, ‘Oh crap, the Knicks got a point guard,’” said Macri. “At some point it felt like they were never going to lose again.”
The “Linsanity” hot streak ended during a 2012 game against the Miami Heat where the Heat’s offense and defense prioritized attacking Lin. Lin’s scoring regressed as he and the team struggled to play in harmony together.
After Lin’s breakout year, the Houston Rockets outbid the Knicks for his services, signing him for a three-year, $25 million contract.
After joining the Rockets, Lin never rose to the same heights as in New York. But for a moment in time, “Linsanity” was a worldwide phenomenon.
“He’s the only Knick in my lifetime that is completely untainted. I hold him at fault for nothing. I have nothing but positive memories and thoughts and feelings about him and Linsanity,” said Macri, who has watched the team for nearly 30 years. “And I can’t say that about literally any other player that has played for the franchise since I’ve been watching them.”
Lin went on to have a respectable NBA career, playing seven more years, for the Rockets, Lakers, Hornets, Nets, Hawks, and winning a championship with the Raptors.
The 2021 G League season will take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Walt Disney World Resort, where the NBA playoffs were held last summer. With 11 teams opted out, the Santa Cruz Warriors will compete against 16 G League teams for the title.
Lin, who was the center of the basketball universe nine years ago, has the chance to prove he is still an NBA player — and playing for the Santa Cruz Warriors will be a part of that.