Just hours after the announced they would not match a three-year, $25.1 million offer sheet for Lin, and before the Rockets had added him to their Web site, online clothing sellers were advertising Jeremy Lin Rockets T-shirts with the No. 17.
“I saw the news that Lin was going to the Rockets, looked up his number and posted the shirt on my site,” said a vendor in coastal Jiangsu Province who would only give his surname, Chen, tacitly acknowledging his latest product likely violated copyright laws. Chen was selling Lin shirts, in red or white, for about $10 each, including shipping.
The N.B.A. is popular in China. The state broadcaster, China Central Television, shows games live, and player jerseys are common sights at markets around the country. The Rockets had a strong China connection with center Yao Ming, the country’s only N.B.A. All-Star, who played in Houston from 2002 to 2010.
Lin is the son of immigrants from Taiwan, the self-ruled island that China considers a renegade province, and many Chinese basketball fans embrace him as their own. One sign of Chinese devotion is evident in the number of followers he has on Sina Weibo, the country’s most popular microblog service. Lin has 2.8 million followers on Weibo, compared with 844,000 on Twitter.
Lin was quick to post word of his new job on Weibo, writing in Chinese that he was honored and happy to be returning to the Rockets. It is not clear if Lin himself wrote the message, given that it appeared in the middle of the night in New York.
Throughout the day Wednesday thousands of Weibo users showered him with praise. One insisted he would no longer watch the Knicks, saying that the post-Yao Rockets would once again excite the Chinese market. Another wrote that he looked forward to Lin making the Knicks regret losing him.
Chen, whose shop also sells shirts featuring cartoon characters and famous musicians, seemed ambivalent about whether Lin’s trade would boost business. Talking about Lin’s breakout season with the Knicks, he said he did well in the first month, “but there are too many people selling clothes online.”
This time, he wasted no time getting a head start.