Oakland, California: Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin returned to the San Francisco Bay area for a warm welcome and a 116-107 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday.
Lin had 14 points and 10 assists on the Asian Heritage Night just across the bay from his home town of Palo Alto in his first Oakland appearance since triggering a mass hysteria last year.
The “Linsanity” may have faded since his knee injury last year and a move from New York Knicks to Houston, but the humble Taiwanese-American was happy to be back in the Bay Area to celebrate Chinese New Year.
The 24-year-old said he could accept all that hype from the media but had different rules for friends and family.
“If anyone calls me any Lin puns,” he said in a post-match interview, “we’re not going to be friends or family anymore.”
The victory over his former team on Tuesday came a week after the Rockets trounced the Warriors 140-109 in Houston.
Golden State did not miss the opportunity to celebrate Lin’s ethnicity in a region known for its Asian diaspora.
On the Asian Heritage Night, the US national anthem was played by an orchestra of traditional Chinese instruments, and the game was broadcast live in China. Dragons danced at half-time and the cheerleaders wore Asian silk-themed outfits.
Lin seemed to have embraced his role model status as well.
Two weeks ago, after attending a premiere of the donation-funded “Linsanity” documentary at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, he met Wat Misaka, the first Asian-American to play in the NBA.
“He’s kind of following in my footsteps and improving on them,” Japanese-American Misaka told the Houston Chronicle. “I wrote him a note of encouragement when he was with [Golden State] back in the dark days when things didn’t look too good for him. He didn’t have all these fans at that time.
“I think he’s in a lot better place now.”