Our national pride is sustained as Lin, like Yao, is Chinese. Unlike Yao, he is also an American, and a Harvard graduate at that.
No wonder that Linsanity is sweeping the Northern Hemisphere.
It is rumored that the New York Knicks sensation has applied for trademark rights to Linsanity on all manner of apparel, including underwear.
We take pride in Lin, though more deserving of pride are the shrewd NBA management. While our eyes are on the ball, their hands are in our pockets.
Shakespeare wrote, "Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em."
As David Carter observes in his "Money Games: Profiting from the Convergence of Sports and Entertainment," advertisers and sports teams are working hard to elevate fans' "at-home," "away-from-home" and "at-venue" experiences.
"An athlete's personal brand can transcend the worlds of sports and entertainment, ultimately providing lucrative opportunities for not only the athlete but the organizations he or she represents," he writes.
In the cases of Yao and Lin, NBA owners create greatness with an eye on a billion newly converted consumers. The market size of China justifies the customization in terms of creating regional interest.
This customization can bring fans closer to their favorite teams and players and enable sports marketers to reach the targeted demographic with surgical precision.
As I write this article, I receive a message from China Mobile: You want to watch Lin's NBA match live via your mobile? Starting this service by paying only 10 yuan (US$1.60) per month.
The sports business has been changed dramatically by the technological developments that have taken place, with each new gadget creating new potential for exploitation: mobile devices, the Internet, mobile phones, and the social media.
This change can be traced to the first radio broadcast in 1921 of the heavyweight boxing championship match between Jack Dempsey and Frenchman Georges Carpentier.
Radio sports had remained popular for nearly two decades, but proved to be no match for television, which turned televised sports event into a still-growing multibillion-dollar industry. In 1948, 190,000 television sets were sold in the United States. In 1950 the number soared to 10 million, in no small part due to televised sports.
In the US, the Super Bowl has become a national holiday, with corporate sponsors ponying up US$3 million for a 30-second ad spot.
The NBC television network paid about US$893 million for the rights to relay the Olympics in Beijing in 2008, and garnered more than US$1 billion in advertising.
NBC even convinced the International Olympic Committee to hold the popular swimming and gymnastics contests in the morning so that it could be broadcast to the US East Coast in evening prime time.
"Sports and properties and media rights holders are now able to control content distribution and unlock incremental revenues by reaching fan bases and consumer groups directly," Carter writes.
But according to Carter, television programming just scratches the surface of the ongoing convergence of entertainment and sports. The video games industry also fuels fans' passion.
John Madden Football, North America's best-selling sports video game, has sold roughly 85 million copies and earned around US$3 billion since its launch in 1989.
Young males are also eager to pay to join fantasy leagues where success results from the real-life statistical accomplishments of players they select.
Thanks to the technological breakthroughs, fans now can access any number of games on cable TV, keep tabs on fantasy teams and watch highlights at any time online.
As Carter notes, "Video gaming has transformed itself from being a relatively stationary activity with a contained number of players to an all-encompassing social and sporting activity."
In every sense, the money game is a mockery of true sportsmanship.