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Knicks' Jeremy Lin seems right at home on All-Star weekend

Lin, the biggest story of the NBA season, won't play in Sunday's All-Star game and logs only nine minutes Friday in Rising Stars game. But he still gets his own solo news conference . . . and why not?

February 24, 2012|By John Cherwa

Reporting from Orlando, Fla. -- Life as a supernova has its ups and downs.

On Thursday, Jeremy Lin was one for 11 from the field and had only three assists in the New York Knicks' loss to the Eastern Conference-leading Miami Heat. The New York press dubbed his performance as "Linvisible" and "Linept."

But on Friday, there was Lin getting his very own media availability, all by himself, at the All-Star game. Commissioner David Stern is the only other person who will get the solo treatment.

"It's quite something, we were waiting to speak to the guys and he had a special press conference," said Ron Adams, the Chicago Bulls assistant coaching "Team Shaq" Friday in the game for first- and second-year players. "I mean it's the quintessential American success story."

As it tuned out they really didn't need to wait for Lin as he was there just for show. He was said to be part of the Rising Stars game but played only nine minutes, going one for four with one assist.

Lin has slowly gotten more comfortable with his celebrity. His self-effacing comments, punctuated by thoughts about religion, have gone viral.

His story is well known, an Ivy Leaguer barely hanging on at the end of the Knicks bench until injuries and desperation put him in the starting lineup. And the legend of Jeremy Lin was born.

And to think he was expecting to get cut.

"I was thinking about three main options," Lin said. "Overseas, D-League or to just take a break and give up basketball for a while. . . . I just said if I get cut by the Knicks then I'll take a look at all of that."

Part of his novelty, no doubt, is because of his heritage.

"I think being Asian American . . . I'm going to have to prove myself more so again and again and again and people still may not believe it," Lin said. "I know a lot of people say I'm deceptively athletic and deceptively quick and I'm not sure what's deceptive."

There is little deception anymore. Even Orlando center Dwight Howard, the unofficial All-Star host this weekend, has taken notice.

"It's crazy," Howard said. "He's all over the place. You can't turn on the TV without seeing him. I'm happy for him. But he hasn't come up against the great wall of Orlando yet."

Steve Kerr, an analyst with TNT, adds to the wide-eyed daily narrative.

"When Jeremy got his opportunity, he didn't just grab it," Kerr said. "He choked it by the neck. He basically just took over that whole franchise, which is stunning, because it's New York and it's Melo [Carmelo Anthony] and Amare [Stoudemire]. You've got stars, you've got the media capital of the world. He just seized it and grabbed it and he's not let go."

Reminds one of last year's All-Star weekend at Staples Center when another superstar-in-waiting went national — Blake Griffin of the Clippers. Griffin's performance in the dunk contest, including jumping over the hood of car, was a thing of marketing genius.

And that lesson isn't lost on Lin. Teammate Iman Shumpert was scheduled to be in the dunk competition until he was injured. This was the plan they came up with.

"Landry [Fields] was going to roll out a couch with a cover over it," Lin said. "I was going to be sleeping underneath it. And then we were going to pull the cover. I was going to throw to Iman an alley-oop from the couch and he was going to jump over both me and the couch, windmill it and then sit down and have Landry hand him a Sprite."

Now that's the kind of thinking a Harvard man can give you.

john.cherwa@latimes.com

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