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Jeremy Lin is hot topic in New York's Chinatown

February 15, 2012 | 12:39 pm

Jeremy Lin

Jeremy Lin is big in New York's Chinatown, even if his image hasn't exactly been featured in every storefront.

Outside the door at Hong Kong Station, a fast-food noodle shop, a blackboard touted the Knicks' game on Wednesday night against the Sacramento Kings. Written at the bottom: Go "Lin" Go.

A newspaper page cutout reading "HAPPY VALINTINE’S DAY," with LIN in bold red letters, was posted on the door. Inside, as a few customers sat down to bowls of steaming soup, a replay of the Knicks’ victory over Toronto on Tuesday played on the television.

"They’re all going crazy about Jeremy Lin," said Wallace Lai, the restaurant's owner, referring to the Knicks' breakthrough point guard.

Lai said his establishment has been packed for Knicks games since Lin started his spine-tingling run of six consecutive games with at least 20 points, with people standing outside and watching through the window.

"He's a kid who came out of nowhere," Lai said. "No one knew him, but he works hard and he's smart. He's a good role model for the next generation.”

That is, if they can distinguish him from other top NBA players.

As a young Asian couple walked hand in hand down the street from Hong Kong Station, the man showed his companion an image on his cellphone.

"Is that Jeremy Lin?" she asked.

"No, LeBron," he responded incredulously, referring to the Miami Heat's LeBron James.

Around the corner, a man sat next to a vegetable stand reading about Lin's exploits in a Chinese newspaper, with a large photo of the Knicks' newest star splashed across the page.

At the New Hon Wong Restaurant on Canal Street, a man walked up to a Chinese waiter and referenced Lin and the Knicks’ latest victory. As if to commemorate the achievement, the waiter and another worker behind the counter bowed to each other.

Dave Wang, who was working behind the counter at the Excellent Pork Chop House, a rare Taiwanese restaurant in Chinatown, said Lin is the hot topic of conversation among customers.

"The people talk a lot about him," said Wang, who, like Lin, is of Taiwanese descent. "He's a Christian, and he said it's God that's given him everything, so we like him. Hopefully, he does more."

On Canal Street, where knockoff handbags, scarves and T-shirts fill storefronts and overeager proprietors often attempt to woo passersby inside, not a piece of Lin merchandise could be found. Give it a while, Lai said.

"They need time to make it and ship it from China," Lai said of the Lin items. "Maybe it takes about a month."


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-- Ben Bolch in New York

Photo: Jeremy Lin. Credit: Frank Gunn / Associated Press