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Yao Ming Discusses Jeremy Lin's New Popularity In China

Yao Ming did amazing work during his too-brief time in the NBA, spreading the love of basketball across the globe as the first big time basketball player hailing from China. Yao's retired now, though, making Jeremy Lin his de facto heir to the throne as the New York Knicks dynamo attempts to keep basketball hot in Asia.

It's working thus far, too, as Yao told's Fran Blinebury in a recent interview.

"If he keeps playing like this, he could be an All-Star, don't you think?" Yao said by phone from his home in Shanghai, China. "Right now, he is handling everything -- the game and the attention he is getting -- perfect."

Lin's averaging 24.3 points, 9.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game while shooting 51 percent from the field in his six games as a starter, so Yao's probably right when it comes to the second-year pro having All-Star potential if he can keep it up. Even if he's not able to continue at such a high-performance level, however, it seems he'll remain popular abroad.

"Lin is 6-3, more like a normal-sized person, and I believe that is what makes him even more popular in China," Yao said. "He is the size that the average person can relate to. They like watching him play against many taller, bigger players and succeed."

It's been a fun ride watching Lin's rise here in America and, judging by Yao's comments, it seems it might be even more fun for those watching in Asia.

For more on Lin and the Knicks, make sure to check out Posting and Toasting. For all things professional basketball, stay tuned to SB Nation's NBA page.