Jeremy Lin was a virtual nobody at this time last year, but today the man who became the breakout star of the NBA is bringing his popularity to Taiwan and bearing an inspirational message for fans there.
Lin is in Taiwan as part of a promotional tour of China and Taiwan for his sponsors. He appeared at a shopping mall in Tapei over the weekend in an event that drew thousands of people, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Lin is saying and doing all the right things during his trip, the report noted: He is modest, funny, and, most important of all, steering clear of questions about the touchy relationship between Taiwan and China.
When asked about his views on the Taiwan-China relationship, Lin issued a diplomatic response, saying that his grandparents were born in China, his parents in Taiwan, and that he was born in the United States. He moved straight on to the next question.
“There is nothing pretentious about him,” Allan Chang, who described himself as a basketball fan in his 30s, told the Wall Street Journal. “It’s clear that he has only one goal in mind and that is to play basketball. I also like him a lot because he is brings glory to Taiwan.”
Lin’s first trip to his parents’ native Taiwan also has larger implications for the NBA, the Associated Press Reported. The NBA is hoping to bank on Lin’s popularity and Asian lineage to generate more fans in the Chinese-speaking world.
Jeremy Lin has been a hit from even before he touched down in Taiwan. News stations have flashed every detail of his trip over the weekend, and reporters hounded flight attendants about what he ate, how much he slept, and even how many bags of ice he wanted during his trip in.
Jeremy Lin said he hasn’t minded the attention.
“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.
Lin filled the shoes of another Chinese star this offseason, signing with the Houston Rockets with a three-year, $25 million contract offer. The Rockets were the former team of Chinese superstar Yao Ming. Even in these comparisons Lin remained humble.
“What I have done is nothing compared to what Yao has done,” Jeremy Lin said. “He has done a lot for me, actually. What he did throughout his career helped me a lot.”
Jeremy Lin is headed to China next week before returning to Taiwan again in late August, where he will coach a youth basketball camp an hold an evangelical meeting on Sept. 2.