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Former NBA star Jeremy Lin looks to boost 'underdog' Taiwan team

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KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan: Former NBA star Jeremy Lin said he was excited to lift the fortunes of his new "underdog" team in Taiwan, after the league's last-placed Kaohsiung 17Live Steelers officially unveiled him on Wednesday.

More than a decade after his seven-game NBA winning streak -- dubbed "Linsanity" -- shot him to global prominence, the 34-year-old will make his debut in the six-team Taiwanese P.League+ on February 12.

Lin, born in the United States to Taiwanese immigrant parents, became the first Asian American to capture an NBA title when the Toronto Raptors won the championship in 2019.

He joined the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) in 2019, most recently with the Guangzhou Loong Lions.

After a CBA stint defined by Covid, including a 10,000 yuan ($1,400) fine in December for reportedly criticising China's quarantine facilities, Lin said he was looking forward to his new role.

"When I made the decision to join the Steelers, my first thought was I wanted to fast forward to my first game, to be back in an environment with audiences," he said in fluent Mandarin.

"I think I can help the team a lot," he added.

The American has struggled with injuries and inconsistency since he sparked "Linsanity" while playing for the New York Knicks in 2012, when he led them to level their record at 15-15.

That season elevated his stardom to Asia, where it also triggered a tussle between Taiwan and China, with both claiming to be his ancestral homeland.

Lin said he wants to focus on "meaningful basketball" and to inspire younger players in Taiwan.

"When I was young I wanted to prove myself, to win championships, but perhaps now I am older, I want to find meaningful basketball and I want to focus on the next generation of players".

The Harvard graduate started his professional career in 2010 with the Golden State Warriors.

He played for several NBA teams, including the Knicks, the Houston Rockets, the LA Lakers and the Charlotte Hornets. -- AFP

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