Lin a fan favorite away from home
ORLANDO, Fla. -- A cheer began to erupt during pregame introductions Friday night at the Amway Center when the public address announcer for the NBA's Rising Stars Challenge said, "A second-year guard from the New York Knicks . . . "
And then the cheer died down when the sentence finished with "Landry Fields."
No offense to Fields, but fans came to see another second-year Knicks guard. Jeremy Lin. You may have heard of him.
When he was introduced five players after Fields, the crowd emptied its lungs. Lin started in the "Team Shaq" backcourt with Minnesota's Ricky Rubio. When Lin's first pass was a perfect foul-line alley-oop for a Blake Griffin dunk, Lin-sanity officially had come to All-Star Weekend.
Lin was otherwise quiet on the court, scoring two points with one assist in 8:55 in Team Shaq's 146-133 loss to Team Chuck. Fields scored 16 points in 18:36.
"We've played like 14 games in 20 days,'' Lin said. "I didn't need another back-to-back-to-back. It was just going out there and relaxing and showing up and then having some fun.''
Before his on-court cameo, Lin was the only NBA person this weekend other than commissioner David Stern to merit a solo news conference. The 23-year-old was confident, humorous and insightful in front of a packed room that included a reporter from People magazine and one from India.
Lin, the first American-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent in NBA history, spoke more forcefully than he had before about the potential bias he may have faced in his underdog trek to the NBA.
"I think it has something to do with it," he said. "But I think just being Asian-American, obviously when you look at me, I'm going to have to prove myself more so, again and again and again, and some people may not believe it.
"I know a lot of people say I'm 'deceptively athletic' and 'deceptively quick,' and I'm not sure what's deceptive. But it could be the fact that I'm Asian-American. But I think that's fine. It's something that I embrace, and it gives me a chip on my shoulder. But I'm very proud to be Asian-American."
Lin has drawn praise from around the league about how he has handled the attention, most recently from the Heat players who hounded him into his worst game as a starter Thursday night.
Lin repeatedly has dished the credit to his teammates, coaches and those who influenced his past. Friday night was no different, especially when he was asked if he found it odd that he had his own news conference when stars such as Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade had to practically share a podium earlier in the day.
"Oh, absolutely," he said. "Just any press conference of my own in general, let alone All-Star Weekend. Just to be here and to 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."
That doesn't mean he wants it to continue like this forever. Lin said he plans to spend the rest of the weekend relaxing with his family.
"I am definitely surprised that people are still talking about Lin-sanity or whatever," he 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 and we can make a good push after the All-Star break and people will start talking about the Knicks and not necessarily me."