Jeremy Lin is a basketball player for the New York Knicks. He has become a star player by scoring lots of points and winning many games for his team. Mr. Lin graduated from Harvard which is not famous for having great basketball players. Because he is short by NBA standards, Mr. Lin was not offered a lot of money to play basketball but the New York team gave him a chance. They are very happy they did.
People love to watch Jeremy Lin run between much taller players to score points. He is also able to score points from long distances away from the basket. He is seen as a successful underdog.
Jeremy Lin was born in the U.S. but his parents came from Taiwan and his grandparents came from Zhijiang province on the mainland. He is very popular in both Taiwan and mainland China. He has been mentioned in over 1.4 million Sina Weibo microblogs recently. He is so popular that clothing companies in China cannot produce enough of his basketball shirts to meet the demand.
Lin is commonly described in the United States as Taiwanese-American because his parents grew up in Taiwan before moving to the United States, where Lin was born. But mainland China is already starting to claim him as its own. He is popular with everyone from Communist Party bosses to the often-persecuted Christian minority.
Last year, Lin came to play basketball with the Jiaxing High School team and was surrounded by admirers. Lin may owe his height, 6 feet 3 inches, to his maternal grandmother’s family. Chen Weiji, the father of Lin’s grandmother, was well over 6 feet and all of Chen’s children were tall as well. Grandfather Chen was a senior civil servant in Jiaxing in the early 1900s. American Protestant missionaries converted him to Christianity, and he taught his strong spiritual interests to his children, who liked to discuss religious subjects in depth and read books on religion.
Lin’s combination of success in the N.B.A. and strong Christian faith has fired the imagination of many Asian-American Christians. There are some early signs that he may also be catching the attention of Christians in China, who continue to face some levels of persecution. Lin has said that he may become a pastor someday.
Awareness of Lin’s faith is only starting to spread in China. State news media have covered Lin’s basketball exploits heavily but avoided mentioning his faith, part of a broader pattern of censoring religious subjects.
The N.B.A. has estimated 300 million people in China play basketball. The retirement last year of Yao Ming, a basketball star from mainland China, took away the NBAs main Asian hero. Lin’s highest-level fan may be Vice President Xi Jinping. Xi told The Washington Post that, “I do watch N.B.A. games on television when I have time.”