When the Toronto Raptors clinched the 2019 NBA championship, point-guard Jeremy Lin became the first Asian-American player to become part of a title-winning team.
He isn’t the first player with Asian lineage to accomplish the feat, though.
That distinction belongs to Mengke Bateer, a big man who played for the San Antonio Spurs, who raised the Larry O’Brien trophy in 2003.
Six years later, in 2009, Sun Yue won a ring playing with Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Mengke and Sun are from China.
Like those two for their respective teams, Lin rode the pine throughout much of the Raptors’ championship run. In the 6-game finals against the Golden State Warriors, Lin saw action for 51 seconds.
With a limited role on the court, Lin, a California native whose parents are Taiwanese, acknowledged questioning his relevance on the Raptors.
“As a competitor who plays and has played my whole life, I’m not used to not playing, so I was like, ‘This is tough, do I really deserve it?’ ” Lin said on the Off The Pill Podcast posted on YouTube Sunday.
“Then I started to think about my whole journey and I definitely do. I contributed to the team, I played 23 games in the regular season. I play against these guys all the time, whether it’s in workouts or whatever, even watching the game and talking to guys, giving my opinion, being a voice.”
In 2018, Jordan Clarkson could have joined Lin, Mengke and Sun in the elite club of NBA title-winning players of Asian heritage, but the Cleveland Cavaliers lost to the Warriors in the finals.
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