TAIPEI: Jeremy Lin said on Friday he hopes to earn the respect of his new Los Angeles Lakers teammates and was relishing the chance to play alongside team star Kobe Bryant.
Lin, the point guard whose 2012 heroics for the New York Knicks sparked a brief “Linsanity” phenomenon, arrived in Taipei late Thursday for a promotional tour, just days after he was traded by the Houston Rockets to the Lakers.
“Kobe wants to win and I want to win. I think Kobe wants his teammates to train hard and I will train hard. I hope he can respect me and we can collaborate well together,” Lin told a press conference in fluent Mandarin.
Lin was the first Chinese-American to play in the NBA, with a grandmother living in China and parents from Taiwan.
He signed a three-year deal with Houston for $25 million in 2012 but the 25-year-old said he had not expected that he would be sitting on the bench in the second year.
“I am very excited to join the Lakers. I think this is a very good opportunity. I hope I can make a bigger contribution . . . I hope I can play a more important role,” Lin said.
He has become a sporting hero in Taiwan after his star turn in New York and more than 200 fans gathered at the airport outside Taipei for his arrival despite the late hour.
Lin averaged 12.5 points, 4.1 assists and 2.6 rebounds a game for the Rockets last season. In 217 games over four NBA campaigns, Lin has averaged 11.9 points, 4.8 assists and 2.6 rebounds a game.
The Asian-American standout will join a talented Laker backcourt hoping to revive the form he showed in February of 2012 when he came off the bench for an injury-plagued New York squad and sparked a win streak.
The Harvard graduate became the first player in NBA history to score at least 20 points and contribute seven assists in his first five starts, twice making the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine while being named among Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People with his rags-to-riches tale.