The roar that erupted at Air Canada Centre when Jeremy Lin dropped a tie-breaking three-point shot with less than a second remaining on the clock could have fooled the New York Knicks into thinking that they were playing at Madison Square Garden. A look around the packed arena would have furthered this illusion, revealing fans wearing homemade Knicks shirts -- since the licensed ones were selling out so quickly -- and holding hand-lettered signs showing their support for the road team. Of course, a closer look at the apparel and the placards showed the support was, in many cases, specifically for New York's breakout Asian-American point guard. Either way, the mood in the arena, with the exception of the Raptors' bench, was euphoric after Lin's game-winning shot.
"Linsanity" had certainly crossed the border and captivated Canada. This visit to Toronto marked the Knicks' third road game since Lin first broke onto the scene in a win against the Nets. Lin has received similarly rousing welcomes from crowds in Washington, D.C. and Minneapolis.
As the Harvard-educated Lin was introduced before that road tilt against the Wizards, he received a raucous welcome from fans, some waving Taiwanese flags. While the undrafted and unheralded Lin's prodigious output since becoming a mainstay of coach Mike D'Antoni's rotation has endeared him to Knicks fans, his background has earned him the love of Asian Americans who may not have otherwise had any reason to support the team.
Lin inherited his love of basketball from his father, who immigrated to the United States from Taiwan in 1977. Fans in his father's homeland are now rallying around the NBA's first Taiwanese-American player. Dozens of Linthusiasts crowded a bar in downtown Taipei (the game began at 8 a.m. local time) to watch Lin's Knicks earn that last-second win over the Raptors, according to The Christian Science Monitor. So high was the enthusiasm in Taiwan after that game-winning hoop that a financial analyst even reportedly attributed a bump in the stock market to the Knicks' win.
The frenzy over Lin in Taiwan is matched by excitement on mainland China, where he has been lauded by the state media for his performance, academic background and relationship with Yao Ming. According to The New York Times, Lin jerseys are also selling out in China. With both countries claiming him as its own, Lin is being treated as a native son on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
Lin's popularity on social media platforms also knows no bounds. Not just a Twitter sensation, Lin is also as popular on Weibo, China's micro-blogging service. After his explosive 38-point performance against the Lakers, he topped 500,000 followers on Weibo. By the time he dropped that key bucket in Toronto he had nearly a million followers on the platform.
Oddly, viewers in Asia may have an easier time finding Lin on their television than many New Yorkers. While subscribers to Time Warner Cable in the New York area have been unable to watch Lin's unprecedented run due to a dispute with the MSG network, fans in China and Taiwan have been tuning to catch the Knickerbockers. According to the NBA, Sina in China intended to broadcast Lin's tour-de-force performance against Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers and stations in Taiwan have plans to broadcast several upcoming Knicks games.