Does Jeremy Lin and "Linsanity" Mean Asian Expansion For NBA?

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For the past several weeks, NBA star Jeremy Lin has been the talk of the US basketball world. On the business side, the sports' authorities and investors are also hoping that the Asian-American star will mean renewed growth to their East Asian fan-base.

Jeremy Lin was born in the United States, but his Taiwanese heritage makes him stand out in the NBA, where most stars have traditionally been African-American or Caucasian.

And like all break-out sports sensations, Lin has quickly turned into a commodity for both the consumers of NBA-related media, and for those who run the business of the sport. It's clear that being of Chinese ancestry is now a key element to the Lin brand.

[Scott Levy, Vice-President, NBA Asia]:
"Jeremy has brought new additional fan base to the game. And I think our partners and prospective partners all see that, and understand that basketball is very popular and becoming more so. They have great interest in associating with the NBA."

According to Levy, Lin's brand has appeal throughout Asia, not just in the Greater China region. He says there are now numerous TV stations in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines that are trying to obtain broadcast rights for Lin's games, those of the New York Knicks.

Yet in Mainland China, which remains the NBA's biggest target market, the issue might not be how far Lin's fame reaches, but rather whether his fan-base is allowed to grow by political authorities.

Lin is already wildly popular in China, but some of his games have been censored from broadcasts due to the appearance of Taiwanese flags among his fans in the bleachers. Some also speculate that the basketball star's Christian faith, and American citizenship, are behind Communist Party discomfort with his status as a "representative of the Chinese people."

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