By Elizabeth Yuan, CNN
HONG KONG — The NBA’s latest on-court sensation has appealed for space to be given to his relatives in Taiwan.
New York Knicks star Jeremy Lin issued the request in a post-game interview after starring in his team’s dramatic 104-97 win over defending NBA champions, the Dallas Mavericks.
“Obviously, I love my family, I love my relatives,” Lin said.
“One special request I have is for the media back in Taiwan to kind of give them their space because they can’t even go to work without being bombarded, and people following them. And so, I just want people to respect the privacy of my relatives in Taiwan. … They need to live their lives as well.”
The story of the Los Angeles-born star’s rise from obscurity to sudden superstar has captivated Taiwan — home to his grandmother and birthplace of Lin’s parents — and mainland China, which also claims to be his roots. There is even debate among his fans about who Lin should represent at the Olympic Games in London this summer.
Lin, whose name in Mandarin is “Lin Shuhao,” is the first NBA player of Taiwan or Chinese descent.
Not since Yao Ming, the now-retired Houston Rockets center and now owner of the Chinese Basketball Association’s Shanghai Sharks, has a basketball player of Asian roots sparked so much interest. Lin’s Sina Weibo account has nearly 2 million followers; on Twitter, he has about nearly 470,000 — at last count.
Last Monday, as a hashtag with his name took over Twitter and New York amid a fourth consecutive win in his fourth start, Lin filed to trademark “LINSANITY.” His filing wasn’t the first; two other Californian men — whose names aren’t Lin; one is Slayton” — beat him by days.
(By contrast just last month before his first start as a Knick, Lin had posted on Facebook, “Everytime i [sic] try to get into Madison Square Garden, the security guards ask me if im a trainer LOL.”
Sunday was a far different story: Lin was the Knicks’ top scorer of the game with 28 points and a career-high 14 assists. The team took its eighth win in nine games and ended the Mavericks’ six-game winning streak.
The game also marked the Knicks debut for J.R. Smith, who scored 15 points in his first return to NBA action after playing for the Zhejiang Golden Bulls in the Chinese Basketball Association during the more than five-month NBA lockout. Although the lockout ended in December, Smith was cleared to play for the NBA only after his team ended its season.
At the Sunday press conference, Lin also addressed the controversy surrounding three incidents of an ethnic slur by ESPN, which on Sunday fired an employee behind an offensive headline and suspended an anchor who also used it.
“I don’t think it was on purpose,” Lin said. “At the same time, they’ve apologized. I don’t care anymore.”