China-favorite Jeremy Lin and the Charlotte Hornets are in China this week to play in a few NBA preseason games against the Los Angeles Clippers. Chinese fans are super excited to see one of their favorite basketball stars. Maybe a little bit too excited.
Lin is a bonafide superstar in China where he has million of followers on Weibo and makes millions off advertising. Essentially, it’s like Linsanity 2012 all the time, which can pose some problems as he tells the Charlotte Observer in a lengthy interview.
“It can be scary, too. When people somehow know what room I’m in, what floor I’m on. Fans aren’t supposed to get up that elevator, but somehow they do. And then they’re waiting for me and all I can say is, ‘You know you are not supposed to be up here?’
“If I am in China I always have a personal body guard, and if I’m making an appearance I’ll always have a team of security. The body guard is legit; he’s always there to stay by my door to hear every knock. Then I can be comfortable and feel safe.”
Lin is an Asian-American pro-basketball player who is playing on his fifth team in his six year NBA career. His parents immigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan and his grandparents were from the mainland. He makes regular trips to both the mainland and Taiwan, but this is his first exhibition game in China. He also now rocks a mohawk.
Lin told the Charlotte Observer that he views both Taiwan and the mainland as his heritage:
“It’s like asking me to choose between, ‘Are you Asian or American?’ ” Lin said. “My grandparents are from the mainland, my parents are from Taiwan. I’ve visited both many times and I speak the language in both countries. I understand the culture of both countries. I celebrated holidays from both countries growing up.
“It’s really hard to distinguish, to say I’m only this or I’m only that.”
Lin also spoke about his faith. He is a devout and outspoken Christian, but admitted that he has to adapt his message somewhat in a country where government control of religion is so tight. This year there was a high-profile crackdown against crosses in Zhejiang.
“In China it’s different. You can’t always overtly share everything you want to share,” Lin said. “The theme, the overall message, I try to keep the same without offending certain people. Maybe it’s wording it in a different way.”
Lin and the Hornets play the Clippers on Wednesday night in Shanghai. The Hornets won the first exhibition match in Shenzhen on Sunday. Seats sold out for both games with some tickets going for well over $1,000.