NBA star thanks fans on 'Linsanity' tour of Beijing
In his first trip to Beijing this week, American-born NBA star Jeremy Lin gave his fans a heartfelt thanks and devoured several helpings of a signature Beijing dish.
'We had Beijing kaoya [roast duck] last night - we had a lot,' Lin, of Chinese descent, said yesterday. He spoke mostly in English, occasionally using Putonghua, such as the name of the dish. 'It was very good.'
Lin arrived in Beijing from Taipei on Tuesday night with some of his relatives, as part of a promotional tour that his sponsors arranged. But local media said the visit did not garner the same reaction that he received in Taipei, where more than 1,000 hailed his arrival.
Still, Lin made known his gratitude to his fans. 'Thanks for supporting me through the tough times,' he said. 'It means a lot. I appreciate it.'
Yesterday, the Harvard University graduate visited a summer camp at a Beijing school for poor children, showing off his skills and playing ball.
After emerging from obscurity in February to become one of the biggest stars for the New York Knicks, the 23-year-old signed a three-year, US$25 million contract with the Houston Rockets last month after the Knicks failed to match the offer. The deal puts Lin on the team of former all-star centre Yao Ming , who retired a year ago.
Yao, from Shanghai, is one of the main reasons the NBA has become so popular in China. During his tenure, he signed several lucrative endorsement deals. In June of last year, before retiring, Sports Illustrated magazine ranked Yao as the sixth-highest paid non-American athlete in the world, with an estimated annual income of US$36 million.
Lin is expected to create similar success, given his popularity in the Chinese-speaking world. He was born and raised in the US, but his maternal grandmother is from the mainland, and his parents are from Taiwan. 'To me and all players, this is definitely a huge, huge area,' Lin said when asked about his thoughts on the Chinese market.
Lin is scheduled to head to Shanghai tomorrow to help coach at a youth camp from August 19-22.