ORLANDO, Fla. – A month ago, many people didn't even know Jeremy Lin was an NBA player. That wasn't the case Friday night. When Lin was introduced at the Rising Stars Challenge, the only player to command anywhere near the same level of applause was Los Angeles Clippers All-Star Blake Griffin.
Fresh off a back-to-back with the New York Knicks, Lin had little more than a cameo role in the Rising Stars game, which featured the league's top first- and second-year players. Lin had two points on 1-of-4 shooting, one rebound and one assist in just nine minutes for Team Shaq. Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving, the top pick of the 2011 draft, was the game's MVP, making all eight of his 3-pointers and totaling 34 points and nine assists to lead Team Chuck to a 146-133 victory.
Despite his limited minutes in the game, Lin has still been one of the top attractions at All-Star weekend. The sporting world has been captivated by the rags-to-riches story of the Harvard graduate who was nearly cut by his third team in two months before lifting the listless Knicks into playoff contention.
"The experience was a lot of fun," Lin said after the game. "I know I didn't play too much, but I was glad to be a part of it. …It was just a fun night."
Other players in the Rising Stars Challenge held a media session with reporters on Friday morning. NBA officials, however, feared the demand for Lin was too great and gave him his own news conference two hours before the game. The interview room was so packed league officials eventually were forced to lock the door and tell late arrivers to watch a video feed.
Lin answered 23 wide-ranging questions on topics including his video-game ratings; Taiwanese-American heritage; plans to help Knicks teammate Iman Shumpert in the dunk contest (he was going to throw a lob pass off a couch before Shumpert had to withdraw because of an injury); vacation plans if he hadn't gone to All-Star weekend (a trip with his family); and his favorite nickname for himself.
"I just like Jeremy," Lin said. "I want to make sure I don't change as a person and that I don't let any of this get to me."
Lin is coming off his worst game as a Knicks starter, totaling eight points and eight turnovers in Thursday's loss to the Miami Heat. But judging from the reception fans gave him in his lone All-Star weekend appearance, Lin's popularity doesn't seem to be dying down too much.
"I'm still surprised that people are talking about 'Linsanity' or whatever," Lin said. "I think hopefully as the season progresses, [the attention] will go to the New York Knicks. And hopefully the Knicks can win basketball games, we can make a good push after the All-Star break and people will start talking about the Knicks and not necessarily me."
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