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“We’re caught up witnessing what we see globally as a passion for sport, really a love of the underdog story and the global appeal for the NBA and that’s all come through in spades in a short period of time, in about 10 days,” he said.

Lin’s exploits also have riveted Taiwan, with reporters staking out the apartment where his grandmother and an uncle live.

Lin’s success in both sports and academics again raises questions about China’s state-run system of sports academies that has produced scores of Olympic gold medal winners by relentlessly training athletes from an early age, while offering them little chance of a normal childhood or proper education, said Jin Can, an expert at the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences Sports Culture Research Institute.

Lin’s case tells us that the regular education system can produce an excellent athlete, and a first-rate player can come out from a world-class university. I think our sport authorities should pay more attention on this question,” Jin said.