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Jeremy Lin and his increasing role as a bridge to Asia

Brooklyn Nets Media Day Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Jeremy Lin was at the Prudential Center in Newark this weekend, where he made a surprise visit to KCON, a festival of Korean music, aka K-Pop. Lin is a big fan of the music as well as someone who —increasingly, it appears— wants to use his celebrity to enhance all manner of Asian culture, break down stereotypes and built cross-cultural bridges.

He’s certainly grown more comfortable with the role. He’s even called building bridges between the U.S. and China —an increasingly difficult task — ”my off-the-court job.” The challenge, he noted, is “figuring out this platform and how to do it right and create a positive impact,” he said, adding that he acknowledges he’s in a “unique situation.”

He noted that same thing in talking with Greg Logan of Newsday who traveled to The Rock to interview him.

“Through basketball, if I play in the NBA, that does more to break down stereotypes and it does more to unify many times than anything I can say,” Lin said. “You entertain, you perform, you use the gifts and the talent you’ve been given as a way to bring people together. That’s something that we need today, more solidarity, more unity.”

Lin said he feels he has a connection with the musicians, who are both artists and celebrities.

“Maybe barriers are broken through music,” Lin added. “There are a lot of K-pop celebrities who are pursuing their dreams, but they’re doing it in ways that are maybe defying a lot of previous stereotypes. Even the industry itself is something I really respect because it’s giving more light to Asians and to highlight the culture of Asians.”

Also this week, Lin was working out with Ding Yanyuhuang, the MVP of the Chinese Basketball Association who will play for the Nets in summer league. He appeared with Ding in a variety of Chinese social media throughout the weekend. And of course, he just returned from a 10-day trip to Taiwan, Hong Kong and China, running basketball camps, preaching and giving a commencement address at Taiwan university.

It’s no surprise. Lin also sees himself as a leader, someone who can not only bridge those ethnic and cultural gaps, but also be force on the Nets. He told Newsday that the Nets have wanted him in a veteran leadership role since Day 1. He doesn’t believe that his time in Vancouver rehabbing hurt his relationship with teammates.

“I know what was asked of me behind closed doors, and I know why they want me here in Brooklyn and why they want me training around these guys,” Lin told Logan. “I don’t feel like there’s anything I need to prove in terms of having a voice. But yeah, I have to lead by example. I’ll be able to do more of that now that I’m here in the building and not in Vancouver. I don’t feel I have to re-establish anything.”

As for his return, Lin said he’s looking forward to good health.

“This is definitely a big year in many ways,” Lin said. “Obviously, there’s a lot at stake. I don’t think much of the pressure. I know that, if I could just be healthy, I can go out and play and enjoy the game. That’s going to mean so much to me . . . I’ve done everything I can to give myself the best chance to succeed.”

It will also be a big year for the Nets in Asia, with Joe Tsai of Hong Kong and Taiwan now in his first year as minority owner —officially “Alternate Governor.” Some like Bobby Marks of ESPN have suggested the Nets trade Lin and Zach Lowe this weekend even proposed a deal, Lin to Phoenix for Dragan Bender and pieces.

Will it happen? Hard to think it will, given his rehab ... and the value of his character.