China’s biggest basketball star says Jeremy Lin’s rise has been sensational. The retired Yao Ming now owns the Chinese Basketball Association's Shanghai Sharks. He has been following the Lin-sanity from afar and is as surprised as anyone of the American’s rise to stardom.
Since Yao Ming retired from the NBA last year, his time has been mostly spent keeping an eye on the CBA team that he owns in his hometown of Shanghai.
But the gentle giant still finds keeps following the league he left last year -- the NBA -- and is surprised at the success of its newest sensation -- Jeremy Lin.
Yao said, "I am very surprised with Jeremy Lin. Surprised but also very happy. I did not think he would play so well. When he played well in his first game for the New York Knicks I thought it was a great start and perhaps his play would drop off. I never thought he would perform as well as he has so far."
Lin often communicates with Yao, and the the NBA rookie looks up to the Chinese giant, both literally and figuratively and considers him a role model.
Yao can understand the struggles of trying to make it in the world’s top basketball league, but he doesn’t have much advice to give to Lin, because of their different backgrounds and upbringing.
He said, "First, New York and Houston are different. Also, the cultures of the two basketball teams are different, the cities are different, the teammates he faces are different, so I don’t want to tell him too much. If I do, I might add some additional pressure on him. But I believe he will cope well. I want to say most of my communication with him is of encouragement and congratulations, it is just that simple."
Yao also thinks that Lin’s sudden rise could change how people evaluate talent -- because when an overlooked and undrafted player takes the NBA by storm -- people must figure out how he slipped through the cracks.
He said, "This is something that Jeremy Lin has brought to the forefront. It has given us something to reflect on, on whether there are imperfections over the development and selection process for our basketball players over the past ten or twenty years."