When I used to live in China, people liked to say, “Yao Ming lai le” (Yao Ming has arrived) whenever they saw my excessively tall frame lumbering towards them in a grocery store or crouching down beside them in a preposterously low-ceilinged subway car. And I would smile, politely (usually while ducking my head under something or other). At least they didn’t shout “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt” whenever I went out. That would have been weird.
But half a dozen years ago, calling a tall person Yao Ming in China wasn’t unusual. Yao Ming was (and still is) a household name there. If you were in China watching the NBA back then, you were watching the Houston Rockets — because that was more or less the only team you could watch on China Central Television 5 (the government approved sports channel).
Now, it’s all about “Linsanity” — both in China, and at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Jeremy Lin’s Meteoric Rise to Fame Gives Rise to “Linsanity”
For those of you troglodytes out there who don’t know who Jeremy Lin is, he is, to much of the world, the new Yao Ming. Only shorter. And American. Until recently, the 6’3” Harvard alum was an NBA benchwarmer. But earlier this month, injuries to teammates and a “desperation” coaching decision thrust Lin into the limelight as an NBA starter. Since then, Lin has played phenomenal basketball and the Knicks are winning games.
But Lin is not just special because of his rise to fame. Lin is also special because he is the first American NBA player with “Chinese/Taiwanese” descent. He also happens to be a devout Christian. Some have speculated that Lin’s affiliations with Taiwan and Christianity have been difficult for the Chinese government to grapple with and argued that China isn’t showing as many Knicks games as one might expect given Lin’s fame. More likely, though, is that the Knicks games aren’t on CCTV 5 too frequently because China recently implemented new rules limiting foreign programming to 25% of total broadcasted content per day.
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