Jeremy Lin, the first NBA player of Taiwanese descent, won the Best Breakthrough Athlete award on Wednesday at one of the most glamorous events on the US’ annual sports calendar.
The accolade, part of the Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly (ESPY) Awards, dubbed the “Oscars of sports,” represented recognition of the “Linsanity” hoopla created by Lin during the 2011-2012 NBA season with his brilliant, breakout performance.
Dressed in a stylish light-grey suit, Lin accepted the trophy from famous NFL New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow at the celebrity-studded ceremony held at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles.
Lin, who shot to global stardom after coming off the New York Knicks bench and leading the squad to a seven-game winning streak in February, said at the ceremony that he felt honored and gratified to win the trophy.
He expressed gratitude to his parents and thanked his Knicks teammates.
New York is fantastic, especially its basketball fans, Lin said, adding that he wants to share the award with all New York fans.
Lin revealed in a Twitter post that he had borrowed some items of his outfit for the occasion.
“Going to the ESPY ... trying the bowtie for the first time. Thanks to friends for letting me borrow stuff for the outfit,” he said.
On the red-carpet walk, Lin warmly greeted his Knicks teammate Landry Fields, who has reportedly reached a three-year contract deal with the Toronto Raptors.
In an interview prior to the ceremony, Lin did not touch on any contract issues, but said the “Linsanity” craze has indeed changed his life.
The NBA free-agent signing moratorium ended on Wednesday, but there was still no word if the Knicks would match the Houston Rockets’ four-year, US$28.8 million offer to Lin, who is now a restricted free agent.
Some media reports speculated that Lin was upset at the Knicks’ negotiating strategy, under which the team would not make Lin an offer and had him set his own market, essentially forcing him into an offer sheet from another club.
On Twitter, Lin disputed that any ill feelings still exist over the Knicks’ strategy, writing: “Lol why do u guys believe everything? No quotes from me = probably not true.”
The 23-year-old Harvard economics graduate also thanked his fans for their votes, which helped him win the ESPY award.
“THANKS and much LOVE to all the fans for the ESPY votes,” he said.
Taiwan’s world No. 1 female golfer, Yani Tseng, was nominated for ESPY awards in the Best International Athlete category and the Best Female Golfer category, but she failed to clinch either of them.
The annual event is organized by the US TV network ESPN.
LeBron James was the big winner at the ESPY Awards, collecting three trophies, including Male Athlete of the Year, for helping the Miami Heat win the NBA championship.
Baylor basketball star Brittney Griner won two trophies, including female athlete of the year, in which she beat out French Open champion Maria Sharapova, skier Lindsay Vonn and soccer player Abby Wambach.