Basketball star Jeremy Lin tells HK youngsters how he chased his dream
Basketball ace talks of rise from underdog to superstar as he launches charity sport scheme for underprivileged children in Hong Kong
It's not "Linsanity" or the adulation of the fans but the chance to "wake up in the morning with a smile on your face and chase your dream" that is the best part of being basketball superstar Jeremy Lin, he told children at the only public appearance of his Hong Kong trip yesterday.
The Taiwanese-American sensation fielded questions from around 120 primary and secondary school pupils gathered at a Tsim Sha Tsui mall to launch a charity basketball programme for underprivileged children.
Young fans wanted to know every detail of the 24-year-old's underdog story of success, and Lin dished out a nugget of wisdom from his basketball shooting coach: "Every day, you lay brick by brick, baby step by baby step - and then you look back and realise you have something big."
And despite the outbreak of "Linsanity" as he made it big in the National Basketball Association with the New York Knicks, Lin admitted that the past season had been a test of his resilience.
He said the NBA was not what he expected. "The speed and athleticism of the players is something I've never seen before. What you see on TV is the glitz and glamour, but it's tough, it's tiring ... there's lots of travelling. You get to a city at 2 or 3am and play a game [the next day]."
The 1.9-metre star will start next season with the Houston Rockets after the Knicks failed to match the US$28.8 million, four-year deal he was offered to play his basketball in Texas.
One pupil asked how it felt to be subjected to racist remarks for being an Asian-American on court. "I'm naturally stubborn and hard-headed ... don't let people tell you what you can or cannot do," he replied.
Asked what his favourite was of the many puns that have been made out of his surname, he chose "Super Lintendo" - for his love of playing the Super Nintendo games console.
Lin knows what it's like to be an underdog given a chance, and when children volunteered to join the star on stage to play games Lin picked the shy ones.
His most telling gesture was the way he treated seven-year-old Marcus Wong Ching-fong, who waited for four hours to see Lin but was not on the list of pupils registered for the event.
Lin's father saw Marcus and was touched, and made sure the boy would join his son on stage.
"My favourite player is Jeremy Lin ... he beat [Los Angeles Lakers legend] Kobe Bryant," said Marcus, who attends Diocesan Boys' School's primary division. "I want to play in the NBA."
When asked if he felt pressure ahead of the new season, Lin said he would rely on his faith. "When I play for God and Him only, I tend to play better."
Lin has openly proclaimed his Christian faith and will share his "Story behind Linsanity" at a gathering tomorrow organised by the Hong Kong Mandarin Bible Church at AsiaWorld-Expo.