Jeremy Lin, the first Asian-American to win an NBA championship, will suit up for the China Basketball Association's Beijing Shougang Ducks next season.
News of Lin's signing instantly went viral on Chinese social media after the Ducks made the announcement on Tuesday afternoon. Within an hour, related topics had been viewed over 70 million times on Weibo.
Posting "Beijing, I'm here!" on his own Weibo account that has over six million followers, the 31-year-old guard indicated he can't wait to launch a new chapter in his career by joining the three-time CBA champion Ducks.
"We are all just people, and no one is perfect," said Lin, who celebrated his birthday last week. "We're all still fighting and chasing our dreams."
Though he was born in Los Angeles, California, Lin has family ties to China and is very popular with Chinese fans. During a visit to Shanghai last month he said that playing in the CBA would rate second only to a return to the NBA in terms of career fulfillment.
For the Ducks, the arrival of the Harvard graduate, who speaks fluent Mandarin, is certain to translate into a higher profile for the team－on and off the court.
"Given his strength and ability, I believe Lin could still play in the NBA or in Europe, but he wished to find a team that can make him the player he wants to become," said Ducks chairman Qin Xiaowen.
"Lin chose Beijing Shougang, which shows his trust in our club. It's also our great pleasure.
"He is a role for all Chinese players fighting to realize their NBA dreams. His life experience and great spirit will encourage all of us. His persistence matches the spirit of Beijing Shougang.
"We believe his arrival will improve the team's performance and bring more energy to the CBA.He will also bring excitement to the city of Beijing."
Lin was a member of the Toronto Raptors team that won the NBA championship last season but he was often benched during the postseason, playing a total of 51 seconds during Toronto's six-game Finals victory over the Golden State Warriors.
He became an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and struggled to find a team with which to try to re-create the "Linsanity" craze he sparked during a torrid early-season scoring binge with the New York Knicks in 2012.
After recovering from a serious right knee injury prior to the 2017-18 season, Lin had just four starts in 74 appearances for Atlanta and Toronto last season, averaging 9.6 points, 3.1 assists and 2.4 rebounds in 19.4 minutes per game while shooting 44 percent from the field and 29.4 percent from 3-point territory.
He broke down in tears during an emotional appearance in Taiwan last month when he described feeling abandoned by the NBA.
"Every year it gets harder," Lin said at the time. "In English there's a saying that once you hit rock bottom, the only way to go is up－but rock bottom just seems to keep getting more and more rock bottom for me."
In recent weeks, Lin's representatives turned down an offer from CSKA Moscow to play in Europe.
"I sincerely welcome the arrival of big brother Lin, who has the true skills and strength," said Ducks power forward Zhai Xiaochuan.
"From now on, we are a team and we will fight together for Beijing basketball.
"To all the fans who will see me taking Lin to hang out in Beijing, please shout his name out loud! He is so welcome here!"