New York Jeremy Lin will play in the Rising Stars Challenge after all.
The Knicks point guard was added Thursday to the roster of players for the Feb. 24 game, just before Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley began drafting for their teams.
Lin’s breakout came after the pool of 18 players was selected, and the NBA was pressured to add him after he scored 136 points in his first five starts, most by an NBA player since the merger with the ABA in 1976-77.
Beyond his strong play, there has been enormous interest in Lin because he was undrafted out of Harvard and is the first American-born NBA player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent. Other NBA players have praised his feats on Twitter, and even President Barack Obama is a fan.
But commissioner David Stern had told USA Today that Lin would not receive a special invite to play in the game involving rookies and second-year players.
Barkley praised the addition, saying it was “really stupid the NBA denied him in the beginning.”
O’Neal took Lin with his third pick after starting with the Clippers’ Blake Griffin. Barkley took Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving at No. 2.
Miami’s Norris Cole also was added to make 20 eligible players.
The game formerly matched rookies against second-year players, but the NBA changed the format this season so the teams would be mixed. O’Neal and Barkley served as general managers.