HONG KONG - Jeremy Lin, the NBA's first Chinese-American player, said Sunday he was "surprised" by Chinese fans support as he and his team Charlotte Hornets beat Los Angeles Clippers in a pre-season game in Shenzhen.
The 27-year-old, whose ancestry is from Taiwan and China, in July signed with Hornets in a free agent deal worth US$4.3 million (S$6.0 million) over two years.
He had previously spent two NBA seasons with Houston after leaving the Knicks and last season with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Playing an NBA game in China for the first time, he said he felt "thankful" for Chinese fan support after his side won the match 106-94.
"I feel thankful and blessed...It's the first time for me to play professional basketball in China," he told reporters in Putonghua at a press conference following the sold-out game attended by 17,400 at the Shenzhen Universiade Centre.
"I am surprised that fans treated me so well...no matter in the hotel or when I was walking around, they'd bring up posters and the jerseys," he said.
In 28 minutes of play, he scored 16 points.
Lin inspired "Linsanity" in 2012 when he came off the bench to spark a win streak by the injury-riddled New York Knicks.
It is also the first time an NBA game was played in Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong.
Fans, who cheered and shouted his Chinese name "Lin Shuhao" throughout the match, said they were "thrilled" by the atmosphere and have been paying more attention to the Hornets because of Lin.
"The match was terrific. Jeremy Lin was terrific, he repeatedly hit three-pointers. I came here to watch him. He'd made me watch Hornets games more." Tu Chingbuo, a 26-year-old spectator who lives in Shenzhen, told AFP.
"I like Jeremy Lin because he is Chinese. It doesn't matter who wins when it's a good match," 35-year-old Zhang Danfeng , also from Shenzhen, told AFP.
Clippers's all-star Blake Griffin scored 13 points and JJ Redick snapped up 23 points. Guards Chris Paul and Austin Rivers pulled out due to injuries.