Taipei, Aug. 5 (CNA) The popularity of NBA point guard Jeremy Lin, evident at a press conference in Taipei Sunday, was no less than that on display at a public event he attended a day earlier, with hundreds of reporters showing up to hear Lin express his gratefulness to Taiwan.
"Seriously, a big thank you," the first American NBA player of Taiwanese descent said.
Sunday's one-hour press conference in Taipei's Xinyi District was Lin's first meeting with Taiwanese media in this country since "Linsanity" took the sports world by storm in February.
"I've never gotten this type of reception before," the 23-year-old point guard told some 300 journalists, adding that Taiwan has given him more support than anywhere else.
He said that Taiwan is very special and means a lot to him because it is where his parents were born and raised, and he still has many family members living on the island.
In addition, he added, the support from his Taiwanese fans makes the country even more special for him.
"The way that you guys embraced me, accepted me, cheered for me and supported me through the tough times. That means a lot to me" Lin said. "I appreciate your loyalty."
Lin's parents and younger brother were also present at the press conference.
After Lin's arrival early the previous morning, he practiced and trained for nearly five hours at a school gym in New Taipei before attending a sponsor's event in the Ximenting area of Taipei, where he shared his basketball skills with some local talent.
"The energy was crazy (last night)," he said of the heartwarming welcome he received.
As for his upcoming plans, he said that since he has a lot of family members here, he will not be flying on to China as soon as Monday. The China trip is part of his Asian tour.
He also said he looks forward to returning to Taiwan for a basketball clinic scheduled for Aug. 27-30, in which he will coach a group of 120 young players.
He said basketball is very big for him and so is Taiwan. "One thing that I love doing is coming back and teaching a basketball camp here and spending time with younger players," said the NBA sensation.
He also pointed out that parents' support for their children who want to develop in other fields as well as academia is important.
Lin has visited Taiwan every summer since becoming an NBA player in 2010. During his previous two trips, he was still a member of the Golden State Warriors.
It is Lin's first visit to Taiwan since his meteoric rise from obscurity with the New York Knicks earlier this year and his recent signing of a three-year, US$25 million contract to play for the Houston Rockets.
He will also attend another sponsor's event Sept. 1 and an evangelical gathering hosted by a local television station Sept. 2.
(By Nell Shen)