CBSSports.com National Columnist

When it comes to All-Star Game, forget rules and let Lin play

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There is no precedent in NBA history for what Lin has done in his first six starts. (Getty Images)  
There is no precedent in NBA history for what Lin has done in his first six starts. (Getty Images)  

Commissioner David Stern has no business giving Knicks guard Jeremy Lin, with all of six starts in the NBA, a belated invitation to the Rising Stars Challenge. That All-Star weekend event features the league's best rookies and second-year players, and Lin hasn't earned that.

He has earned more.

Jeremy Lin should play in the All-Star Game.

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Yes, this All-Star Game. The one in 10 days in Orlando. Lin should play in it, because he deserves it. Simple as that.

Some folks won't agree, because you know how some folks are, so let me explain why Jeremy Lin, who was out of work on opening day and was averaging 3.6 ppg as recently as Feb. 3, deserves a spot in the Feb. 26 All-Star Game.

Let me start by picking apart perhaps the biggest argument against Lin, that there's no precedent for such an invitation. And that's true, there isn't. Point conceded. Until 1969 there was no precedent for man to walk on the moon, either. Did that stop us from getting up there? Nope.

Yes, I just compared Jeremy Lin's first six NBA starts to the moonwalk. No, I probably shouldn't have, seeing how 12 men have now walked on the moon.

And there has been just one Jeremy Lin.

And not in the "everyone's a unique little snowflake" way, either. There's only one Jeremy Lin, as in, he has done things nobody in NBA history has done. Good things. No, great things. Since the 1976 NBA-ABA merger, nobody has scored as many points as Lin (89) in his first three starts. Or scored as many points (136) in his first five starts. Or gone 5-0 while scoring at least 20 points in those first five starts.

And if anybody has ever single-handedly lifted his franchise's value by millions of dollars -- in a 10-day span in the middle of the season -- that would be news to me. Because this stuff just doesn't happen.

No matter what Floyd Mayweather says, this story is unique. Lin isn't getting "all the hype because he's Asian," as Mayweather buffoonishly claimed last week. There haven't been, as Mayweather claimed, "black players [who] do what he does every night." There haven't been white players who do it, either. Not European players, not South American players. Big players, short players, players who will or won't eat green eggs and ham ... the NBA player who has done what Jeremy Lin has done simply doesn't exist, because Lin is doing unprecedented things.

Unprecedented accomplishments deserve unprecedented achievements. An All-Star invitation for Jeremy Lin? Sounds right. Sounds a lot better than the pointless way the NBA first tried to get him to Orlando, as part of the silly Shooting Stars competition and worse, as Iman Shumpert's flunky in the dunk contest. That was the news on Thursday afternoon. By nightfall, Lin was heading to the Rising Stars Challenge. Better, but not good enough.

Jeremy Lin is no mascot -- at the moment, he's the biggest man on the NBA campus. Putting him in the All-Star Game would be a transparent, commissioner-ordered move for the good of the game, but so what? So was that nixed Chris Paul trade to the Lakers.

Paul, by the way, is one of many NBA greats to exult in the Jeremy Lin story. See, players aren't jealous of Jeremy Lin -- they're grateful. Because they know what he's done for the game.

Lin hasn't merely made money for himself and the Knicks. He has made money for everyone else in the league by opening (or reigniting) new revenue streams. Yao Ming opened the doors to the Far East, but that door has been untended for years. Lin shows up, and the door is wide open again. People who don't claim to be basketball fans have become Jeremy Lin fans. They're buying tickets, buying jerseys, watching on television. Some of those things put money directly into the league's pockets, right now. Others will pay off when the league negotiates its next TV contract. Ratings are ratings, and Jeremy Lin draws monster ratings.

Speaking of ...

Wouldn't you like to care about the All-Star Game, maybe even watch it? I've not watched that thing in years because it's unwatchable, a joyless slam-dunk competition. The NBA All-Star Game is like cotton candy, which I can also endure for about 45 seconds until I start to feel sick.

But if Jeremy Lin plays in the All-Star Game, I'll watch. Hell, I might even try to attend -- as a writer, sure, but as a fan as well, because I'm on the bandwagon. Jeremy Lin is that different, interesting, fun.

He's that good, too. Will Lin always be this good? I have no idea. Putting him in the All-Star Game wouldn't be a prediction, just recognition. In the last seven games he has averaged 24.4 points and 9.1 assists. He won one with a free throw in the final five seconds, won another with a 3-pointer in the final second.

The Knicks have won all seven, most of them without leading scorers Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire. Jeremy Lin is Tim Tebow, minus the debate about how much these victories really have to do with him. Nobody is suggesting the Knicks are winning in spite of Lin; they're winning because of Lin. Period. The Knicks were 8-15 when Lin started to play regular minutes. Now they're 15-15.

It's one of the more amazing stories in recent NBA history. I don't know if it will continue, but that isn't the point.

David Stern would be obtuse to allow his league's midseason showcase to happen without his league's biggest attraction.


Gregg Doyel is a columnist for CBSSports.com. He covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer, the Marlins for the Miami Herald, and Brooksville (Fla.) Hernando for the Tampa Tribune. He was 4-0 (3 KO's!) as an amateur boxer, and volunteers for the ALS Association. Follow Gregg Doyel on Twitter.
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