Houston Rockets star Jeremy Lin is focused tonight as he and the Rockets prepare to host Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks in Houston, Texas. (Photo : Reuters)
Heading into arguably the most anticipated game of the week in NBA basketball, the Houston Rockets' Jeremy Lin, the league's most talented Asian player since Yao Ming, isn't sounding like a player anticipating a chance to one-up his former team, the New York Knicks.
"We're still all friends, they're all great guys still," he said of his ex-Knicks teammates on Thursday at a practice shootaround to NBA.com.
Try as they might, reporters couldn't get Lin to crack on hinting at any extra motivation he might harbor in getting ready to host the Knicks in Houston on Friday.
Lin became a household name in New York in February when he came off the bench during an incredible stretch of play that saw him averaging more than 20 points and nearly 10 assists over several weeks that essentially kept New York's struggling season alive, the Knicks eventually making the playoffs.
However, Lin eventually agreed to a four-year, $29 million contract with the Rockets in free agency during the summer-a deal that Knicks owner James Dolan refused to match and several players, notably former teammate Carmelo Anthony, dubbed "ridiculous."
Yet despite those factors, Lin denied that he was any more motivated to stick it to his ex-team than normal.
"I have enough motivation already, trying to get out of the little slump that I'm in. I've just got to keep playing," he said Thursday.
Lin also addressed questions on whether the speculation by critics that the Rockets overpaid for Lin's services bothered him. True to his nature, Lin brushed off that notion, more focused on his own play.
"Everybody has their own specific contract and everybody has an opinion on whether they're worth it or not. And for me, it's just a matter of trying to be a better basketball player, and that's what I want to do. And whether I'm overvalued, undervalued, whatever it might be, that's not really my concern as long as I try to reach my potential."
Regarding the Knicks, who have a 9-2 season record and are arguably the hottest team in the NBA at the moment, Lin had nothing but praise for the way the team has been playing.
"They're playing great. I actually haven't been able to watch any of their games, I've only seen highlights...but they're playing really well right now. I think they've found what really works for them, for sure."
There was at least one thing that Lin did promise about tonight's game against New York-he was going to give them everything he's got.
"I'm just gonna play, keep playing. It's a blessing," he told the New York Post. "It's a reminder to be thankful for everything I have. I'm gonna go out there on Friday and play my heart out and just try to approach it the same. Play my heart out and be OK with the results whatever they may be, trusting in God."