Unburdened by Expectations and Pressure, Can Jeremy Lin Bring Linsanity to LA?

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — There’s a subtle key to the underdog story.

It’s all about the expectations—or more accurately, the lack thereof.

When the underdog beats the odds, real math goes into that equation: He isn't supposed to win, according to the percentages, so there's no reason for him to feel pressure to perform and win.

As chronicled in the 2013 documentary Linsanity, the preface to Jeremy Lin's stunning domination under then-New York Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni was Lin asking D'Antoni if the player should ship his car out for the rest of the season with the league's contract-guarantee date approaching, and the coach replying: "Uh, no. Probably not."

No expectations, no pressure—and so much freedom just to do what you can do.

Including, in the most unexpected ways, win.

There is a parallel between that small driving force to Linsanity in 2012 and whatever Lin brings to the undermanned Los Angeles Lakers in 2014.

He said Thursday in his introductory appearance as a Laker as clearly as possible in multiple ways:

• "I'm not trying to recreate a Linsanity."

• "I'm not trying to be that phenomenon."

• "I'm not trying to relive that banner season, and I think that's a big weight off my shoulders."

It wasn't modesty or humility. It was honesty—and the weird thing is that it sets the stage for Lin to bring out the magic that overtook the world back then.

"I feel the least amount of pressure on my shoulders now," he said, "than I ever have."

Lin's life lesson from his two-year stint with the Houston Rockets is that the pressure is not helpful and even less fun. Lin arrived in Houston amid fanfare and controversy, getting a $29 million contract offer that the Knicks could've matched but didn't. So there was Lin, meant to reconnect with the Rockets' Yao Ming...

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