NBA PM: Jeremy Lin, West All-Star?
Last year, journalists from around the world made their way to Orlando during All-Star Weekend to experience Linsanity firsthand. Jeremy Lin had become a global icon overnight and after the NBA added him to the Rising Stars Challenge, there were so many media requests for Lin that he was given his own press conference.
Shortly after NBA Commissioner David Stern addressed the media, Lin was ushered into an Amway Center interview room, where he took a seat and answered questions from hundreds of reporters. Superstars like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James didn’t even have their own press conferences, just group availability alongside their All-Star teammates. Lin was the only player who was asked to address the media by himself, and reporters spilled out of the large room.
Fast forward 10 months and Lin is now the starting point guard for the Houston Rockets. Even though he hasn’t duplicated the success from Linsanity, he’s having a solid season, averaging 11.3 points, 6.1 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.8 steals. Few players have the same global appeal as Lin, which is why it’s possible that he gets voted into the 2013 All-Star Game held in Houston.
The first All-Star returns came in today and Lin has 298,319 votes, which is the third-most votes among Western Conference guards. He has more votes than James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Tony Parker among others.
While Lin won’t be able to catch Kobe Bryant, who leads all West players with 639,419 votes, he may be able to catch Chris Paul, who has just 353,603 votes. Even though Lin has gotten off to a slow start, he’s only 55,294 votes away from supplanting Paul as the West’s starting point guard.
If Lin can have a few more performances like the one he had against the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night (38 points, seven assists, two steals, two blocks), he may be starting alongside Bryant during the All-Star Game.
Lin is a household name around the world and he’s receiving plenty of international votes, just as Yao Ming’s Houston teammates used to receive more votes than expected because of an influx of votes cast overseas.
This year, the NBA has made it easier than ever for international fans to submit their All-Star ballot. Not only can fans place votes on Twitter and Facebook, they can also vote on the Chinese social media websites Sina Weibo and Tencent QQ. Fans can also vote through NBA.com and the NBA Game Time application, where they can select to view the ballot in 11 different languages, or via text by sending a player’s last name to 6-9-6-2-2 (“MYNBA”).
Last year, the All-Star Game was broadcast in 215 countries and territories in 47 languages. Lin may not be one of best guards in the Western Conference, but he’s certainly one of the most popular. And that’s what the All-Star Game is all about, giving the fans what they want to see. For the past two years, Paul and Bryant have been the West’s starting backcourt, but that may change if Linsanity takes over All-Star Weekend for the second year in a row.
Conley Discusses Memphis’ Early Success
The Memphis Grizzlies have been one of best teams in the league through the first six weeks of the 2012-13 season. They’re currently 14-5, hold the third seed in the Western Conference and have big wins over the Miami HEAT, New York Knicks and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Unlike other teams that rely on a combination of superstars, Memphis is winning games with a balanced attack. Rudy Gay is the high-flying perimeter scorer, Zach Randolph is the dominant low-post option and Marc Gasol is the do-it-all center. These three players get most of the credit for the Grizzlies’ success, but Mike Conley may be the player who will ultimately determine just how far Memphis can go. After all, he’s the team’s floor general, and if the Grizzlies make a deep postseason run, he’ll likely have to match up against an elite point guard or two such as Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Tony Parker.
The 25-year-old Conley is having one of the best seasons of his young career, averaging 13.9 points, 6.3 assists and 2.6 steals. Not only is his 13.9 points a career-high, he’s shooting a career-best 45.5 percent from the field and 43.5 from three-point range.
Conley has stepped up for the Grizzlies and leads their attack on both ends of the court. On the defensive end, he is able to create turnovers with his quick hands and he’s tied with Chris Paul for most steals per game. On the offensive end, he has improved as a scorer and shooter, but his bread and butter is still running the offense and facilitating for his talented teammates.
HOOPSWORLD’s Steve Kyler recently caught up with Conley to discuss his great season, the Grizzlies’ early success and much more:
Ivey Providing Leadership in Philadelphia
After the Philadelphia 76ers parted ways with Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand and Lou Williams among others last season, they knew that they had to bring in a veteran leader. Even though they were handing over the reins to their young core of Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young, they needed someone who could mentor the young players and provide postseason experience.
The Sixers turned to veteran point guard Royal Ivey, who was an excellent presence in the locker room during his first stint in Philadelphia from 2008 to 2010. Ivey was part of last year’s Oklahoma City Thunder team that went to the NBA Finals. Now, he’s backing up Holiday and leading the young 76ers.
“I’m familiar with the organization,” Ivey said. “They have always made me feel right at home.”
While Ivey is back in Philadelphia, the team is very different these days. During Ivey’s first season with the Sixers, Maurice Cheeks was the head coach and the roster featured now-departed veterans such as Iguodala, Brand, Williams, Samuel Dalembert, Andre Miller, Willie Green, Reggie Evans and others. Young is the only player who is still with the Sixers from Ivey’s first season. That team lost to the Orlando Magic in the first round of the playoffs.
During Ivey’s second season, Eddie Jordan took over as head coach and the team entered a rebuilding year. They finished with just 27 wins and played many of the young players who are now the cornerstones of the franchise, such as Holiday and Young. When Ivey first returned to the Sixers, he couldn’t believe how much the young players had grown up in the three years that he was gone.
“This is a different ball club,” Ivey said. “We have veteran guys on the team who are used to winning and know how to win.”
Sixers head coach Doug Collins deserves some credit for that transformation.
“He’s great,” Ivey said of Collins. “He’s a player’s coach and he’s someone you want to play for. What you see is what you get from him.”
Coming off of a disappointing loss in the Finals with the Thunder and not being re-signed over the offseason didn’t derail Ivey. He admitted it was tough changing sceneries after he developed relationships with his former teammates in Oklahoma City, but he acknowledges that this is a better situation for him. Now, he’s doing his best to help another team that relies heavily on young stars to make a deep postseason run.