Jeremy Lin and Kenny Atkinson: “Special Bond of Friendship”


Howard Beck wrote a special article (“Linsanity a Memory, Nets Offering Second Act for Jeremy Lin and Kenny Atkinson”, Bleacher Report) on the special bond between Jeremy Lin and Kenny Atkison dating back to pre-Linsanity years in 2012 all the way to how they finally joined forces together in the Brooklyn Nets.

Some of the notable stories that Lin fans might not know previously are:

1. Lin knew Kenny wants to get him as a starting PG after he became a Nets head coach

Their Brooklyn reunion was far from guaranteed. But when Atkinson finally landed his first head coaching job, he knew he wanted Lin with him. And when Lin got the call, he knew it would be hard to say no.

So here they are, together again, on the other side of the East River, trying to recapture a little of the old magic.

“He knows I came here to take on this challenge with him,” Lin told B/R. “And deep down inside, I know that when he got this job, the first thing he wanted to do was come and get me. We’re in this together. And we’re deeply embedded in this challenge.”

2. Kenny’s undaunted belief to pursue Lin as the Nets starting Point Guard

“There was a certain point in that process,” Atkinson said, now slapping the table in his Brooklyn office for effect, “like, ‘Sean, we gotta get Jeremy.’ We gotta go get him.'” Others were unsure. Could Lin, a scoring sixth man in Charlotte, be a full-time starting point guard?

“Yes,” Atkinson kept telling them. “Yes, I believe in it. Yes, yes, yes, yes. In the back of my mind, the whole time I knew,” Atkinson said. “I knew he was the right guy.”

3. Lin’s brilliance and inquisitive nature to synthesize coaches’ directions

Where another player might just follow directions blindly, Lin would question everything, then add his own take. “He’d say it politely, but he would see things almost two levels deep,” Atkinson said.

Over his first 13 games as an everyday player, Lin averaged nine assists to go with his 22 points per game. “The passing was underappreciated,” Atkinson said.

4. Lin vouched for Kenny in 2013 for a 76ers head coach vacancy

The Philadelphia 76ers considered Atkinson for their head coach vacancy in 2013—and called Lin for a recommendation. “I talked to Philadelphia for, like, 45 minutes,” Lin said. “And I told the 76ers all these reasons why they needed to hire Kenny.”

5. More than a coach-player relationship, a special bond of friendship

They have been together for just four months, but Lin said he and Atkinson have spoken more in that time than Lin did in his entire two years with McHale or his one season with Scott.

There’s definitely a special bond,” Atkinson said. “It’s beyond coach-player. It’s respect, but friendship really.”

The article tells many stories to show how deep the special bond of friendship that Jeremy and Kenny had in the past 4 years. They are in the Nets joint venture together; they are friends, partners; and they are more than a coach and a player. It might take some time to get the new Nets engine revving to be a top echelon NBA team but there is no doubt they are friends in a close partnership. They will need to push each other hard this season to bring out the best in them.