Orlando, FL (Sports Network) - The star power that has descended on Central
Florida this weekend is pretty impressive.
Checking into the media hotel for NBA All-Star weekend on Friday, I was
greeted by a massive banner featuring perennial All-Stars Tony Parker and
Carmelo Anthony. Step inside a little further and LeBron James and Kevin Love
got some similar love.
The shuttle on the way to Amway Center slowly drove past a massive billboard
showcasing Orlando's own Dwight Howard and his famous smile.
The best pound-for-pound boxer in the world, Floyd Mayweather, was in town to
host an All-Star party with Howard, while rapper Fabulous played co-host to
Anthony for another shindig. Dwayne Wade did it on its own and everyone got
the red carpet treatment.
Rapper-actor Common, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" star J.B. Smoove and comedian
Kevin Hart were among those that hit the hardwood in the annual celebrity game
with Hart earning MVP honors.
Kevin Durant even hosted a press conference to introduce "Thunderstruck" and
no that's not his new sneaker, it's his Hollywood debut described as "a fun
and energetic family basketball movie starring Durant as himself, a
basketball star that switches talent with a klutzy 16-year-old fan."
Gotta be better than Kazaam right?
So with all that as background -- guess who stole the show on Friday?
Of course, it was Jeremy Lin.
You can blame the New York media or ESPN for overblowing the Lin story all you
want but that ignores the interest he has generated, not only in America but
"I think obviously playing in New York (has accentuated things)," Lin said
when talking about his quick rise to fame. "It's a big stage with a big fan
base and so there's a lot of media. In terms of platform and media I think
that's the best place to be just because they have it all."
Both Team Shaq (Shaquille O'Neal) and Team Chuck (Charles Barkley)
had open practices for the Rising Stars Challenge during the NBA All-Star Jam
Session at the Orlando County Convention Center on Friday afternoon.
Nearly every single player and both Hall of Fame coaches were scheduled to be
made available to the media. One was held back and given his own press
conference at Amway Center before the actual game -- Lin.
Blake Griffin was in the Rising Stars Challenge. So was Kyrie Irving and
Ricky Rubio but Lin is still the belle of the ball for now.
"Oh absolutely," Lin said if having his own presser during All-Star weekend
was surreal. "Just any press conference on my own in general. Just to be here
and see the company and all the players that are here is just -- it's been
unbelievable and I'm just trying to take it all in and embrace it and enjoy it
every step of the way."
Whenever I attend an NBA signature event, I'm struck by just how much foreign
press is on hand. Basketball may always play little brother to football and
baseball in the states but it's also the one American sport that exports and
According to the NBA, this year's All-Star Game will be broadcast in 215
countries and territories and in over 44 languages. Of the 1,800 media types
credentialed for the event, 336 are international reporters and they all
seemed to be hounding Lin.
To the foreign media I talked with it's all about the rookie's ethnicity
and the fact Lin just doesn't look like a "normal" NBA player.
"I think it has something to do with it. I don't know how much," Lin said
when asked about that. "But I think just being Asian-American, obviously when
you look at me, I'm going to have to prove myself again and again and again.
Some people may not believe it."
Already some are pointing to the Knicks' 102-88 loss at Miami on Thursday as
the beginning of the end for Lin. The Harvard Product was held to a dismal 1-
of-11 shooting performance thanks to torturous defense from Mario Chalmers,
Wade and LeBron James.
"I'm just trying to stay focused on basketball," Lin said when addressing the
doubters. "I think the difference between me this year and last year is that
last year I cared what everybody said and this year I don't really care what
anybody says, except for my teammates and coaches. That's kind of the approach
So what is the shelf life of Linsanity?
Well, Lin himself hopes it ends sooner rather than later.
"I'm definitely surprised that people are talking about Linsanity or
whatever," Lin said. "I think hopefully as the season progresses, it will go
from that to the New York Knicks and hopefully the Knicks can win basketball
games. Hopefully we can make a good push after the All-Star break and people
will start talking about the Knicks and not necessarily me."
The Sports Network