China quick to champion Jeremy Lin, Asian sport sensation


Jeremy Lin at Madison Square Garden on February 10, 2012 in New York City.


Chris Chambers

In China, nearly a million and a half microblogging messages posted recently mention Asian basketball sensation Jeremy Lin, The New York Times reported, marking a groundswell of interest in the latest sports phenomenon.

The 6-foot-3-inch point guard was mostly sidelined by his New York Knicks basketball team until a recent chance opportunity on court shot him to stardom a week and a half ago. Lin has now scored a stunning 27 points and 11 assists over a six-game stretch, including a three-pointer in the final moments of a tight New York Knicks vs. Toronto Raptors game on Tuesday night that secured the Knicks another team win.

But basketball's latest wonderboy may now find himself caught in a competition of a different sort, as both China and Taiwan seek to claim the Asian-American as one of their own. Lin's parents were born in Taiwan, but Communist Party officials in China claim his origins lie in the eastern Chinese city of Jiaxing.

Lin’s closest relative, Yu Guohua, told The New York Times from China on Tuesday that Lin's father has always been "very supportive" of his son's althetic ambitions, adding that when Lin came to play at Jiaxing High School team last spring he was swarmed by fans.

The 23-year-old Knicks player is also Christian, a fact not lost among China's small, persecuted Christian population. The New York Times reports that some 1,500 messages mention Lin's faith out of the total 1.4 million Chinese microblogging messages posted about the new sports superstar, joining a chorus of admiration that has been collectively termed Linsanity.

Lin has so far made 136 more points in his first five starts, USA Today reported, outranking top stars like Michael Jordan and Shaquille O'Neal.

He's also reportedly outgrown his former couchsurfing ways. The New York Daily News reported that Lin, a Harvard graduate, is no longer kicking it at his brother's pad, moving instead to a New York sublet while he finds a new place better fitted for fame.

Meanwhile, the people – even in the Chinese Communist Party sense of the word – appear to be eagerly tracking his movements. 

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