Former NBA sensation Jeremy Lin launched a “dream” 14th professional basketball season by playing alongside his younger brother last week in Taiwan, the island his parents left to emigrate to the United States.
The 35-year-old point-guard – best known for igniting the NBA’s “Linsanity” era, a two-week tear in the 2012 Finals that transcended the sport itself – shared the court with Joseph Lin in front of a packed Xinzhuang Gymnasium, New Taipei City last Wednesday.
With the New Taipei Kings, the pair eased past South Korea’s SK Knights in the continental East Asian Super League, and joined forces again days later to defeat local rivals Fubon Braves in Taiwan’s P.League+ competition.
It was the first time the Lin brothers pulled on the same jersey in a professional capacity, though the pair faced each other as opponents last season.
California-born Lin said post-game he had been dreaming of playing on the same team as his brother for decades, while celebrating that their parents – who emigrated from Taiwan to the US in the 1970s – would finally not have to “worry” about supporting different teams.
Aside from his “Linsanity” era with the New York Knicks more than a decade ago, Lin is also considered to be the first American of Taiwanese or Chinese heritage to play in the NBA.
He became the first Asian-American to win an NBA Championship having featured in the Toronto Raptors’ title-winning roster in 2019 – the last time he featured in the NBA’s elite tier.
While playing for the Santa Cruz Warriors in the NBA G League amid the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021, Lin claimed he had been called “coronavirus” on court.
It sparked the start of his campaign to push back on violence against Asian Americans in the US.
By the end of the year, Lin had moved to the Chinese Basketball Association’s Beijing Ducks, and later the Guangzhou Loong Lions, in a chapter that was somewhat soured by the country’s strict pandemic regulations.
Lin joined Taiwan’s Kaohsiung Steelers in January, before opting for the Kings’ yellow and black threads alongside Joseph, who is four years his junior and spent his entire pro basketball career in Taiwan, in September.
Matt Beyer, co-founder and CEO of East Asia Super League and former agent for Chinese NBA trailblazer Yi Jianlian, said the impact of Lin’s presence in the region could not be underestimated.
“It’s awesome to see them playing together. For the fans in Taipei to be witness to it was really special,” Beyer said.
“The fact that he’s returning to his ancestral homeland and playing with his brother – to see the evolution of his career from the NBA to across mainland China, and then going back to his parents’ place of origin.
“From going from this American-born Chinese player at Harvard, to totally taking his shot in the NBA, and then to learn Chinese and how to integrate himself back into the culture in both the mainland and Taiwan is an incredible story and evolution.
“If you look across Asian basketball, you always hear people saying ‘you’re never good enough to play and don’t have the same physicality as American or European players.’ Then you see a guy like Jeremy Lin who scratched his whole way up the greasy pole all the way to the top of the NBA. It’s incredible. To have him now playing in the East Asia Super League is a huge draw for the fans.”
For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at CNN.com