Kaohsiung Steelers want Jeremy Lin, face competition from other clubs: GM

07/29/2022 12:01 PM
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Kaohsiung Steelers General Manager Kenny Kao. CNA photo July 29, 2022
Kaohsiung Steelers General Manager Kenny Kao. CNA photo July 29, 2022

Taipei, July 29 (CNA) Taiwan professional basketball club the Kaohsiung Steelers have confirmed rumors that they are trying to recruit NBA superstar Jeremy Lin (林書豪) for next season, admitting they faced challenges, but saying they are not giving up.

Steelers General Manager Kenny Kao (高景炎) told CNA in an interview in Taipei this week that the Steelers are trying to enlist Lin for the upcoming P. LEAGUE+ 2022-2023 season, but also face competition from other clubs.

"If you have a great talent, you have someone that's a legendary figure and likely the best Asian basketball player ever, and you don't pursue that kind of talent, you're not doing your job right," Kao said.

Lin rose to fame in 2012 as a member of the New York Knicks when he, as the first American of Taiwanese descent to play in the NBA, unexpectedly led the Knicks to a winning turnaround and inspired the "Linsanity" craze.

Source: jlin7

He has been a hot topic on the internet recently with fans and media trying to guess his next move as he has not yet been signed by any club in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), the first-tier professional men's basketball league in China, where he played last season for the Beijing Ducks.

Hence, fans and media have speculated that Lin might play in one of Taiwan's professional basketball leagues, just like his younger brother Joseph Lin (林書緯), who plays in the P. LEAGUE+ for the Taipei Fubon Braves.

Commenting on such speculation, Kao said that every general manager of a basketball club in the P. LEAGUE+ is trying to enlist Jeremy Lin.

"If you ask any general manager of this league, 'Are you trying to get Jeremy?' If he says no, then there's two possibilities, one possibility is he is lying, the second possibility is that he is going to get fired," Kao said.

One of the challenges the Steelers face when competing with other teams for Jeremy Lin is the imbalance of resources between northern and southern Taiwan.

Kao said just by looking at the number of professional basketball clubs in northern Taiwan -- Taipei, New Taipei, and Taoyuan, there are at least six, while Kaohsiung only has two.

"The north maybe can say that it has more hipper things than we do, but that's no reason to get upset and stop trying. So, like I said, if we don't try for it, we are neglecting our fan's wishes," Kao said.

Meanwhile, apart from trying to recruit the former NBA sensation, Kao said another goal he has is to build the right culture for the club, so local Kaohsiung residents will identify with the Steelers and be proud to tell people they are "Steelers fans."

He hopes to achieve that by showing everyone the dedication of his staff and the passion of his players when competing with their hearts out on the basketball court, Kao said.

"I think the fans will appreciate that and I hope they will appreciate the struggle too, because it's not going to be an instant success. In basketball it's hard to get instant success because everything is accumulative."

Steelers General Manager Kenny Kao (center), head coach Slavoljub Lale Gorunovic (left), and chief operations head Cheng Chih-lung. CNA photo July 29, 2022
Steelers General Manager Kenny Kao (center), head coach Slavoljub Lale Gorunovic (left), and chief operations head Cheng Chih-lung. CNA photo July 29, 2022

Echoing Kao, Steelers head coach Slavoljub Lale Gorunovic told CNA he has big expectations for next season.

"I hope next season will be much better than last season because we have more time for preparations and I hope our roster will be stronger," the Serbian veteran coach said.

The Steelers were one of two teams, the other being the Taoyuan Pilots, that did not advance into the playoffs last season. The Kaohsiung team finished fifth in the six-team league's regular season standings with a 9-20 record.

(By William Yen)

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