Lin added to Rising Stars Challenge

Iman Shumpert celebrates after his steal led to

Iman Shumpert celebrates after his steal led to a basket in the second half against the Philadelphia 76ers. (Jan. 11, 2012) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

It now can be called the Rising Stars Chal-Lin-ge.

Jeremy Lin was added yesterday as a participant in the Rising Stars Challenge on Feb. 24 in Orlando, Fla. The game showcases the best first- and second-year players. For the last 14 days, Lin has been one of the NBA's best players, let alone second-year guys.

The NBA was working on finding a way to make Lin a part of the All-Star festivities. It wouldn't be surprising if the league also brought to All-Star Weekend the now-famous couch the Knicks point guard was sleeping on before becoming an overnight star and used it in some capacity.

Lin, the first American-born NBA player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent, has become an international star since becoming a part of the Knicks' rotation Feb. 4. He's led the Knicks to seven straight victories, including a 38-point effort against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers last Friday, and hit the game-winning three-pointer with five-tenths of a second left Tuesday in Toronto.

Lin is averaging 24.4 points and 9.1 assists during the winning streak and 24.3 points and 9.5 assists in six starts.

There was talk of Lin, an undrafted point guard from Harvard, potentially being in the Skills Competition or the Shooting Stars Challenge in Orlando. But NBA commissioner David Stern decided to add Lin to the exhibition formerly known as the Rookie-Sophomore Game.

TNT analyst Charles Barkley, the general manager of Team Chuck, supported the decision to add Lin, saying it was "really stupid the NBA denied him in the beginning."

Shaquille O'Neal -- the general manager of Team Shaq -- drafted Lin with his third pick, after Blake Griffin and Kyrie Irving. Lin's other teammates include Ricky Rubio and the Knicks' Landry Fields.

Lin also could have a role in the Slam Dunk competition.

Knicks rookie Iman Shumpert didn't make the Rising Stars Challenge, but he will get to show off how high he can rise and might get an assist from Lin. Shumpert will be in the Slam Dunk contest Feb. 25. Lin is expected to take part, too, but as a passer.

Dunkers often use teammates to set them up. Blake Griffin had Baron Davis throw him a pass out of the sunroof of a Kia in winning last year's dunk competition.

Joining Shumpert in the contest are the Rockets' Chase Budinger, the Pacers' Paul George and Timberwolves rookie Derrick Williams. For the first time, there will be a single-round format and the winner will be chosen solely by the fans' vote. Fans will be able to vote via Twitter.

Shumpert is the sixth Knick to compete in the contest. Nate Robinson won it three times and Kenny Walker once.

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