"There's no decision made yet about any broadcasting adjustment at CCTV, but personally I would suggest the channel air more Knicks games," says Yu. "The fans just love to watch him."
For now, though, Lin's still a somewhat unknown quantity. There's a good chance -- as Marbury told me over dinner -- that he could end up a flash in the pan. Lin has only started six games for the Knicks and has yet to face real, sustained challenges from top guards like Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, Chris Paul, and Steve Nash. "When they come against him, they come for blood," said Marbury. "But he's gonna come for the same thing if he's the same type of player."
"We're going to wait and see; you don't know what's gonna happen next month," added Morris.
Indeed, it's likely that Lin will come back to Earth. His rise has been sensational, but few scouts or talent evaluators will go on record saying that they see Lin maintaining his current level of excellence. For Chinese fans, though, perhaps the most likable thing about Lin is that he appears so physically average. He's neither particularly tall nor strong, and unlike the Chinese players who come out of Soviet-style sports schools, Lin -- with his Harvard degree -- shows that athletic and academic excellence don't have to be mutually exclusive.
"He may not be as successful as Yao in China because, at the end of the day, Lin doesn't wear the Chinese jersey," says Yu -- though it's rumored that he's already been approached by both Taiwan and China to play for their national teams. "But his story is inspirational not only to Chinese kids, but to also all the other Asian kids who play basketball."
To those kids, Jeremy Lin's value has less to do with the eventual limits of his talent than his do-it-yourself story, which for now, at least, has bestowed upon him a street cred that the government-raised Yao could never have.