Taiwanese-American NBA Player a Hit With Asian, US Audiences

Posted February 10th, 2012 at 3:25 am (UTC-5)
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Asian television networks are rushing to add New York Knicks basketball games to their broadcast schedules after the sudden emergence of Jeremy Lin, the first U.S.-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent to compete in the National Basketball Association.

Lin has made an enormous impact for the Knicks since being placed in the starting lineup earlier this week. The point guard has averaged more than 20 points and eight assists in leading the Knicks to victory in each of their last three games.

His unexpected rise to stardom has sent NBA viewership soaring in Asia. A Chinese television network plans to show Friday's game against the Los Angeles Lakers. Television networks in Taiwan and the Philippines have also added several of Lin's games to their schedules.

His sudden emergence has been dubbed “Linsanity” in the U.S., with scores of Asian-Americans filling sports arenas, eager to cheer for Lin after the recent retirement of eight-time Chinese All-Star Yao Ming. But Lin says he is not overly concerned with all the attention.

“It hasn't even been a week, so I'm not really too worried about that. I just want to make sure I can do what I can to help the team win every time I step out on the floor, and I'm not really too worried about proving anything to anybody right now.”

The New York-based MSG Network says ratings for its Knicks games have increased by 36 percent in the last two games.

The California native was not drafted into the NBA after studying economics at Harvard University, an Ivy League school known more for its academics than its sports programs. He eventually signed with the Golden State Warriors , but played very little before being released last year.

He signed in December with the Knicks, where he remained an unknown commodity until a week ago. Since then, his energetic style and calming presence has won praise from Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni.

“He puts everybody in the right spots and he just calms everything down. And we're getting good shots every time down. And he makes the defense even tougher.”

D'Antoni says he is confident that Lin has the ability to sustain his good play for the Knicks, who are fighting for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.