Analysis | Now that Jeremy Lin has Taiwan passport, what’s next?

Toronto Raptors' Jeremy Lin drives against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, March 11, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — Rumors surrounding Jeremy Lin’s eventual transfer to Taiwan strengthened on Wednesday after The Ministry of the Interior (MOI, 内政部) confirmed that the former National Basketball Association (NBA) player Jeremy Lin (林書豪) obtained a Republic of China (Taiwan) passport. 

Lin’s father expressed his appreciation to the MOI in the afternoon after the application was successful. Lin has yet to make a public statement or announcement about this matter. 

By obtaining a Taiwanese passport, Lin would qualify to play for the Taiwan Men’s Basketball National Team. Although he also holds American citizenship, he has yet to be called up for the United States’ Men’s Basketball National Team.  

By acquiring Taiwanese citizenship, he could help Taiwan in future qualifiers for the Olympics. Although Lin will be 35-years old by the next Olympics, he could still strengthen Taiwan’s team against teams like New Zealand, Australia, China, and South Korea. 

This decision may also have various implications for his career in mainland China.

Given the tense relationship between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, there is a possibility that teams in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA, 中國男子籃球職業聯賽) would be pressured by the government to cut Lin from their teams.

If this is the case, Lin will be faced with the decision of whether to move to another country or to return to his new passport country of Taiwan. 

In this case, the most appealing option would be the Taipei Fubon Braves. This option would give Lin a chance to be reunited with his younger brother named Joseph Lin, who has since become a star on the team. 

When the ABL was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Braves were seeded number five out of 10 teams.

Lin would not only be able to help the Braves climb the standing but would also be challenged in doing so. 

This move would also not be surprising for the Braves and other Taiwanese teams as other former NBA players have joined Taiwanese basketball teams before. Players such as O.J. Mayo, a former NBA All-Rookie First Team, joined the Braves in 2019. 

Although his salary is reported to be as high as US$3 million, which could be too high for many Taiwanese teams, his presence on any team in Taiwan would significantly boost their popularity and sales.

Since Jeremy Lin is arguably the best player of Taiwanese descent of all time, fans in Taiwan adore him. Chances are that his popularity in Taiwan will be even greater than in mainland China where he has to compete for attention with Chinese superstar Yi Jianlian (易建聯). 

One of the potential drawbacks of returning to Taiwan now would be that he would have to complete his military service before he turns 36.

Although the time period of service has been reduced to four months in recent years, Lin should still consider the impact of the four months on his career.

While his decision is still unknown, more and more facts are emerging that support this theory that he will move to Taiwan’s basketball league. Unfortunately, Taiwanese basketball fans will have to wait until he makes anything official.