Jeremy Lin went to his parents’ native Taiwan and learned Linsanity was there waiting on him. The Houston Rockets guard who made an international name for himself last season with the New York Knicks was on tour for sponsors and was greeting with thousands of figurative hugs.
“The way you guys [Taiwanese fans] embraced me, accepted me, and supported me through the tough times, means a lot to me. I appreciate your loyalty,” he said, speaking to his admirers mostly in English with the occasional shift into Mandarin.
Lin told a gathering of people on Sunday he hopes to inspire other people to play basketball, just as former Chinese NBA star Yao Ming inspired him. Ironically enough, the 7-foot-6 Ming played for the Rockets in Houston before chronic foot problems ended his career.
Lin recently left the Knicks for Houston when they did not match a three-year, $25-million contract.
A graduate of Harvard, Lin was born and raised in the United States, but his maternal grandmother is from China and his parents are from Taiwan.
Making a distinction of what he considers himself – Chinese or Taiwanese – is a sensitive question that Lin deftly handled by saying, There’s a lot of history behind who I am.”
And he’s hoping to make history – or at least an impact.
“What I have done is nothing compared to what Yao has done,” Lin said. “I have always looked up to Yao, but I don’t see myself as having to fill his shoes. My goal was very simple, and it is to get as close as I can to reach my personal potential. I am not sure what that is, but my goal is to find out.”
He did say playing in the NBA as an Asian has its plusses. “I think the advantage of being an Asian basketball player in America is that no one expects anything from you, and no one thinks you are going to be good,” said at the press conference.
“The reason why I said it was an advantage is because everyone takes you lightly, and the minute you step out on the court, you give it to them and you immediately earn their respect, but no one is going to give it to you right away, not in America at least.”