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“It’s Been an Honor”: Jeremy Lin Announces He’s Leaving China in Hopes of NBA Return

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After a turbulent, drama-filled year in China, Jeremy Lin has announced his intention to leave CBA team Beijing Ducks in the hopes of a return to the NBA. In a video posted to Chinese social media platform Weibo, Lin said the past season had “been an honor” and called the decision “the hardest in [his] life.”

Amid major disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Lin guided the Ducks through an unusual 2019-20 basketball season to the CBA semi-finals. There, they lost in dramatic fashion to eventual champions Guangdong Southern Tigers with Lin missing a three-pointer in the dying moments that would’ve kept the tie alive.

In an emotional video, Lin says, “This decision has really been the hardest in my life. I’ve spent the last four weeks thinking about this and not being able to sleep. In the end, although [the Ducks] have treated me incredibly well […] giving me everything I wanted, I feel that I still have an NBA dream.”

The 32 year-old guard also spoke of how he’d cried when telling his family about his decision, again emphasizing that he felt it was a difficult call to leave China. “This has been such a special year, playing with [the Ducks] is something I’ll never forget. I’ve been really moved by the fans, so this has been a really tough decision. I just want to say thank you to you all, I love you, but this is something I’ve got to do.”

Lin, who last year became the first Asian-American to win an NBA championship, had always seemed intent on a move back to the States — even after signing for the Beijing Ducks in the wake of his departure from the Toronto Raptors. In an interview with RADII in August last year, he spoke of feeling like he had unfinished business in the league. “My thing has always been that I’m trying to be the player that I know I can be. And I haven’t achieved that yet.”

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“I’ve Always Known My Journey Would End in China”: Jeremy Lin’s Off-Season Grind Benefits Chinese Youth

It remains unclear quite what Lin’s chances of securing a place with an NBA team are, even after an impressive season in China. A heavily-liked comment on Lin’s Weibo post simply asked, “so where to next season?”

Another highly-upvoted comment referenced Lin’s complaints about the rough treatment he received from opponents in the CBA, with him sustaining multiple injuries during the season. “He’s been scared off by the Chinese players,” wrote user Kobe-Bean-Bryant. “Another two years in this league and he’d have no life left.”

Lin’s former Beijing teammate Zhai Xiaochuan was also among those commenting under the Taiwanese-American’s video: “Brother, I believe in you, support you, love you.”

Jake Newby
Jake Newby is a Shanghai-based writer and editor with more than a decade's experience living and working in China. Previously managing editor of Time Out Shanghai, he's also written for publications such as South China Morning Post and the Financial Times.