'Linsanity' hits both sides of Taiwan strait

Fans of US NBA basketball player Jeremy Lin display the newpapers at Lin's hometown in central Changhua, Taiwan. Bitter rivals Taiwan and China want to lay claim to the basketball player as his real ancestral land. [AFP]
PHOTO

Fans of US NBA basketball player Jeremy Lin display the newpapers at Lin's hometown in central Changhua, Taiwan. Bitter rivals Taiwan and China want to lay claim to the basketball player as his real ancestral land. [AFP]

Last Updated: Sun, 19 Feb 2012 17:33:00 +1100

NBA sensation Jeremy Lin has sparked a war of words between Taiwan and China, as the two lay claim to being the New York Knicks player's true ancestral homeland.

A former part time player, Lin was called off the substitute bench in the absence of stars Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, and powered the Knicks to a slew of wins.

Lin's debut shocked the sporting world, as he notched up the most points of any NBA player in his first five games, since the NBA and ABA merged in 1976.

The US-born point guard has parents who are Taiwanese immigrants, and he has inspired a feverish following on the island, with fans in Taiwan said to include President Ma Ying-jeou.

But Lin's maternal grandmother is from the mainland, and the Xinhua news agency says there have even been calls for him to represent China in the London Olympics.

That's unlikely to happen, because Lin would have to renounce his US citizenship in order to play for China.

Meanwhile, US sports broadcaster ESPN has apologized for a website headline that contained an anti-Chinese slur, after the Knicks suffered its first defeat in eight straight NBA games.

The headline "Chink in the Armor" was included in the online story, about Lin's role in the 89-85 loss to the New Orleans Hornets.

In a statement ESPN called the headline offensive, and said it was conducting a review of cross-platform editorial procedures.

The network says it will decide on disciplinary action for those involved.

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