LOS ANGELES — Taiwanese-American basketball star Jeremy Lin (林書豪) will wear the No. 17 jersey as a Los Angeles Lakers guard in the new NBA season, a change that he described as an exciting “fresh start.”
Lin was formally introduced as team member by Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak at a press conference days after the Lakers announced the acquisition of the 25-year-old point guard from the Houston Rockets.
Kupchak and Lin held up a jersey bearing the number 17 and the player’s surname.
“I’m really excited to be a part of this organization and I’m seeing this as a new start, a fresh start,” Lin said.
Noting that he wore number 17 during his stint with the New York Knicks in 2012, Lin said it is a good time to have that number again.
In his two seasons with the Rockets, Lin wore the number 7 jersey but in the Lakers team that number belongs to shooting guard Xavier Henry.
The Lakers have had an interest in Lin for a while but missed out on two previous opportunities to acquire him and he ended up playing for the Golden State Warriors and then the Rockets, according to Kupchak.
“(He) came to Los Angeles a week ago for his physical and we had a chance to visit in my office,” Kupchak said. “The first thing I said to him when he sat down in my office was: “The third time’s the charm.”
In a deal with the Rockets, the Lakers acquired Lin, along with a future first-round pick and a 2015 second-round pick, in exchange for the rights to center Sergei Lishchuk.
After being waived twice during the 2011-2012 season, Lin first made his mark in the NBA as a member of the Knicks with a 25-point, seven-assist performance off the bench against the then New Jersey Nets on Feb. 4, 2012.
That was the beginning of what came to be known as “Linsanity.”
Over his next five games — all starts — Lin tallied 136 points, the most by a player since the 1976 ABA-NBA merger. He recorded at least 20 points and seven assists in each of those games, becoming the only player to do so since at least 1970.
During the Knicks’ 7-game winning streak that began with the win over the Nets, Lin dropped a career high 38 points against the Lakers at Madison Square Garden, making an impression on Lakers guard Kobe Bryant.