After a brutal year under the thumb of Byron Scott as a Los Angeles Laker, Jeremy Lin surprised many when he opted to join the Charlotte Hornets for last season. Lin’s marketing value alone figured to make him the target of a big market team. Yet Lin chose to play in Charlotte, and for not a lot of money either — by NBA standards. Maybe it was because Hornets owner Michael Jordan wanted him — that’s a big draw. Or maybe he just needed time out of bright lights and the Bible Belt felt right.
Whatever the reason, Lin’s time in a Hornets uniform solidified his game and his reputation. Playing well — and consistently — under Hornets head coach Steve Clifford made Lin’s big-money move to the Nets possible. Lin showed he could play both guard slots, contribute scoring bursts, and he also erased the knock on his defense. (Clifford said Lin was better defensively than anyone thought.) Because of a hamstring injury Lin will miss his first opportunity tonight to face Clifford and the Hornets as the Nets leader, but there’s a lot of respect between Lin and the Hornets and vice-versa. Clifford will be glad not to see him on the floor, which tells the story.