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Owner Kobe wouldn't settle for overlooking Lin

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POSTED February 26, 2012 7:59 p.m.

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — If Kobe Bryant ever owns a team, his personnel department better not overlook a guy like Jeremy Lin.

Bryant said he is still amazed that nobody drafted Lin and two teams cut him this season before the Knicks picked him up.

The Lakers All-Star got a good look at Linsanity when the Knicks beat the Lakers 92-85 on Feb. 10. Lin outscored Bryant 38-34, just a night after Bryant said he wasn't familiar with the former Harvard guard's game.

It may be OK for a player to be unaware. Bryant wouldn't stand for it from his talent evaluators.

"The biggest thing to me is how everybody missed that," Bryant said. "They all would be fired if I was owning a team. I hear this stuff about it came out of nowhere, and I think it's (wrong).

"You can't play that well and just come out of nowhere. There has to something there and everybody missed it, so heads would roll."

PLAY BALL: LeBron James delivered his familiar chalk toss, though this time there was no basketball game to be played.

He was actually standing on a baseball field.

James helped dedicate renovated athletic facilities at a local Boys & Girls club Saturday in what's becoming an All-Star tradition for the Miami Heat forward. He did the same last year in Los Angeles and was cheered in both cities, even though he wears an enemy uniform.

"Any time I get an opportunity to be out in the public forum like this, it's been great," James said. "They don't judge me by me wearing the Heat uniform, even though the Magic are one of our rival teams."

The project was a partnership between James' foundation and Sprite, which launched another program involving James this weekend. He and Kobe Bryant will serve on opposite coaching staffs for teams that will compete in the "uncontainable" game at All-Star 2013 in Houston. Amateur players can try out to play on one of the teams by uploading their moves on Sprite.com, and judges will choose 24 to compete.

But James doesn't want kids to focus only on basketball. Along with the renovated baseball and soccer fields, and a picnic area, 25 iPads were also given out at Saturday's dedication.

"Anything those kids want that's going to help them in everyday life, we try to provide for them," he said. "We want to steer them to letting them know how important education is, also how important these types of atmospheres are, Boys & Girls Clubs and things of that nature, to be able to be around other kids your age and gain friendships and things that will last forever."

L.A. STORY: With two All-Stars starters and a spot atop the Pacific Division, the Los Angeles Clippers are getting praise that's usually reserved for the other team in Los Angeles.

Kobe Bryant was asked if he could have imagined that city having four All-Star starters.

"Yeah, they were just in Laker uniforms," Bryant said. "Clippers had none, but it's been a great turnaround and Los Angeles is obviously well represented."

The Lakers did have four All-Stars in 1998, with Shaquille O'Neal, Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones joining Bryant. This time, the Clippers' Blake Griffin and Chris Paul will start for the Western Conference on Sunday, along with Bryant and Lakers center Andrew Bynum.

The Clippers' rapid turnaround came after they traded for Paul in the preseason, and Miami's Dwyane Wade is happy for his friend's success.

"Hopefully they take a little while to get real, real, real, real good, but they're fast tracking that thing over there in L.A. and I'm happy for him," Wade said.

The Clippers went into the break with a 1½-game lead over the Lakers in the division. And if the Clippers go on to reach the NBA finals, don't expect Bryant to be cheering for them to win one for Los Angeles.

"I'll be on an island somewhere, how about that?" he said.

RISING RATINGS: More people watched the Rising Stars Challenge than the game featuring the future superstars from the Class of 2003.

Friday's game on TNT drew 2.7 million viewers, most in the event's history and a 12 percent increase from last year's game. The telecast earned a 1.7 national rating, up 13 percent from 2011.

The previous record was set in 2004, when nearly 2.2 million viewers watched a game that included current All-Stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony.

This year's game featured rookies and second-year players competing on the same team for the first time, and earned extra attention when the Knicks' Jeremy Lin was a late addition.

HELPING OUT: Union executive director Billy Hunter joined several current and former players Saturday afternoon distributing food and other household items to more than 3,000 families as part of partnership between the union, Feed the Children and the City of Orlando.

Players that participated in handing the supplies included union vice president and Washington forward Maurice Evans, Boston's Keyon Dooling, Minnesota's Anthony Tolliver, San Antonio's Matt Bonner and Atlanta's Willie Green. Former players included Theo Ratliff and Kermit Washington.

Recipients received a 25-pound box of food items and 10-pound bag of other supplies, which are supposed to last a typical family about a week. The NBPA sponsored eight semi-trucks full of items that gave out items at different locations.

Tom Sellars, a spokesman for Feed the Children, said the NBPA's impact is noticeable for a city where 1 in 4 children are living below the poverty line.

"The presence of these players and former players help us put a spotlight on that," he said.

AROUND ALL-STAR: Gerald Green, the 2007 slam dunk champion, picked up another All-Star weekend award. Green, a former first-round pick of Boston now playing for the L.A. D-Fenders of the NBA Development League, earned MVP honors at the D-League All-Star game after scoring 28 points in the West's 135-132 win over the East. ... Singer Kayla Brianna, daughter of former NBA player and current TNT analyst Kenny Smith, will perform during Sunday's pregame concert on NBA TV. She will appear with the Knicks City Dancers, making her national TV debut this weekend in the city where her father had the biggest night of his career. Smith made a then-record seven 3-pointers as the Houston Rockets won Game 1 of the NBA finals, getting started on the road to a sweep of the Magic for their second consecutive NBA title.

 

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