Basketball star Jeremy Lin is visiting his roots in Taiwan this week. The player, whose success as a point guard in the North American National Basketball Association sparked an international fan reaction known as “Linsanity”, hopes his second stop in Taiwan this month will help raise the status of basketball in Asia.
Sixty young basketball students gathered in a Taipei stadium to welcome Jeremy Lin Monday. They were excited to meet the 24-year-old American whose parents are Taiwanese. Lin led the New York Knicks to a rapid series of wins after fighting and finally winning a chance to play as point guard in February. Lin signed with the Houston Rockets last month.
Jeremy Lin is in Taiwan with friend and Golden State Warriors player David Lee to help an elite group of Taiwanese children learn techniques of the game. At a news conference Monday, Lin said he wants to boost basketball play in Asia.
“When it comes to basketball, [Asia] is kind of a little underdeveloped. But I think that’s changing and I think there’s huge potential here and the game is growing at a rapid pace,” Lin said. “And so the thing that I want to do, the thing David wants to do, the reason he wanted to come, was because we felt like we can have a lot of insights we wanted share and spread to the kids here in Taiwan. That’s why we made the trip.”
Lin also visited Taiwan early in August to teach basketball. He went on to attend promotional events in Beijing and Hong Kong, returning to the island Sunday. Mainland Chinese have been wild about basketball since fellow national Yao Ming started with the Houston Rockets in 2002. Elsewhere in Asia, the sport is also big in the Philippines, where leagues exist in even the remotest parts of the country. But Lin is one of the few Asian or Asian-American players in the NBA.
Taiwanese and other Asians look up to the 1.91 meter player partly because he struggled to get where he is. The Harvard University graduate was demoted by the Warriors three times before joining the Knicks. The New York team, also doubtful of Lin’s ability, gave him a crucial chance to prove himself after a teammate suffered an injury.
Lin declined to compare himself to other NBA players and suggested his 120 summer camp students enjoy themselves so they remain interested.
“I think the biggest thing that we want to teach these kids is to have fun playing basketball,” he said. “At the end of the day it’s a game, it’s a sport. And if you play it, you should love it. So we want to make this camp educational, but I think the biggest thing is to allow them to have fun so when they leave they’re really excited to continue playing.”
Lin is also known for citing his belief in Christianity for getting him through rough spots in NBA play. He will take part in an evangelical event hosted by a Taiwanese television station before leaving the island on September 3.