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"Lin-mania" rouses Asian-American families

Jeremy Lin, #17 of the New York Knicks,

Jeremy Lin, #17 of the New York Knicks, drives against Chris Kaman, left, #35 of the New Orleans Hornets, and Trevor Ariza, right, #1 of the New Orleans Hornets, at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 17, 2012 in New York City. Credit: Getty Images

Tina Yuan's husband and 11-year-old son are die-hard sports fans, but watching pro teams on TV never interested her -- until a couple of weeks ago.

Curious about the roars erupting from their Port Washington living room one night, Yuan was initiated into the "Lin-mania" that has quickly gone global.

Her husband pointed in amazement at the Knicks' surprise star on the screen: Asian-American point guard Jeremy Lin.

"It's just a good story," said Yuan, 48, a Chinese-American who works at her husband's medical practice. "Obviously it's a little more for Asians because it's sort of a battle against the odds with what he's doing."

Hooked, Yuan has watched every Knicks game since.

Lin, whose parents were born in Taiwan, rocketed to stardom by leading his team to a seven-game winning streak as a virtual unknown. The rare success of an Asian player in the NBA has sparked huge interest worldwide -- with millions of fans in China and Taiwan now following the Knicks on TV.

Even for non-sports fans like Yuan, ethnic pride swells with every buzzer-beating shot.

"I never even watched basketball; I don't even know what end of the hoop is up, and I watched it," said Helen Chin, co-president of the Chinese Center on Long Island, a cultural organization based in West Hempstead.

"He seems to be just so focused, and the best thing about him is his sportsmanship," she said of Lin.

Asian-Americans laud Lin for being a role model and crushing stereotypes. Aside from his hard work on and off the court, fans love Lin's humility -- which Yuan calls a traditional Asian doctrine.

"You see how he speaks with so much humbleness, always including his team, even though the spotlight is on him," she said.

Justin Lee, a freshman on Jericho High School's JV-9 basketball team, said he hopes the spotlight on Lin will help pave the way for other Asian players.

"He's inspiring other Asians to continue playing, and some coaches actually think about Asians now because of his success," said Lee, who has Chinese and Korean roots.

Sporting orange-and-blue "Linsanity" T-shirts, Jordan Ma, 11, and his 9-year-old sister Emily shot hoops on their Manhasset driveway Friday before their family left for Madison Square Garden to see Lin play.

One side-effect of Lin-mania: more family time.

Michelle Ma said her husband and their four kids now find themselves talking about Lin over dinner and huddling on the couch to watch Knicks games.

"We were a little disappointed" that the Knicks' win streak ended, said Ma, 45, who was born in China and runs her own import business. The family, however, isn't giving up. They'll be rooting on the Knicks when they play the Dallas Mavericks Sunday.

"We have faith in him," she said. "We'll be following up on Jeremy Lin all the way."

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