LAS VEGAS –- Jeremy Lin won’t have to watch the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony this September to know the full extent of Yao Ming’s basketball and cultural impact on the NBA.
Perhaps more than anybody else, Lin was directly affected by Yao’s success in the NBA.
“I mean, there’s no person that has been impacted more than me,” Lin said when asked about Yao’s influence while the point guard watched the Brooklyn Nets play in the Las Vegas Summer League. “No other player, no other person, I would say, has been more impacted by what Yao has done than me because I was kind of the one that came right after him.”
Lin said he tried to watch many of Yao’s games during his eight-year career. As for so many other Asians around the world, Yao’s arrival to the NBA from China in 2002 as the first overall pick was a milestone for Lin.
“It was an inspiration to see someone of Asian descent to be able to play on the NBA floor,” the 27-year-old said. “So in high school and stuff, I would always tune into what is going on with him. And so you talk about paying respect to the people that came before you, just the stuff that he had to go through made it easier for me.”
Yao helped create an awareness of many stereotypes about Asians, something Lin still deals with today in the NBA.
“Hopefully, I can do that for other Asian players coming in,” Lin said. “They’re like, 'Hey!' There’s Yao, there’s me, there’s other Asian players and maybe they won’t be so quick to discount Asian players in the future.”