ORLANDO, Fla. – Not Magic and Bird, not Kobe or LeBron. Not even Michael Jordan.
Nobody can match the buzz that Jeremy Lin has created in such a short amount of time, NBA Commissioner David Stern said Thursday.
"I haven't done a computation, but it's fair to say that no player has created the interest and the frenzy in this short period of time, in any sport, that I'm aware of like Jeremy Lin has," Stern said Thursday.
Lin, an undrafted guard from Harvard, has become the NBA's biggest story since coming off the Knicks' bench earlier this month to lead them to nine wins in 11 games heading into their matchup with Miami on Thursday night.
With Lin's popularity in Asia as the league's first American-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent, and with the religious community because of his strong Christian faith, Stern says he's "never quite seen anything like" the attention on Lin.
"It's fascinating," Stern said after the All-Star Jam Session opening ceremonies.
The top five videos on NBA.com since Feb. 4, when Lin joined the rotation, are all Lin or Knicks related. Lin went from 190,000 followers on Sina, China's version of Twitter, on Feb. 2 to more than 1 million as of Feb. 16.
Lin was a late addition to Friday's Rising Stars Challenge between first and second-year players. Lin's emergence came after the 18-player roster for the game had been announced, and though there were calls for his inclusion, Stern told USA Today that Lin would not be given a special addition.
However, Lin was added along with Heat rookie Norris Cole last week. Stern said he was "overruled" by Kenny Smith, who is serving as commissioner of the game while fellow TNT analysts Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal acted as general managers and drafted the teams.
"So I guess the people have been satisfied," Stern said, adding that he thought Lin's addition was great.
Lin's story has caught the attention of athletes beyond the NBA, such as boxer Manny Pacquiao and tennis great Roger Federer.
Federer, speaking on a conference call Thursday to promote an exhibition match against Andy Roddick at Madison Square Garden, said he hopes Lin comes to the March 5 event.
"I think this is why we all follow sports because of great stories like this, that all of a sudden someone breaks through that you didn't know or didn't expect and you didn't know the result was going to happen," Federer said, "and that he was able to help the Knicks to come through in the way he did now is a great thing."
Stern also said he plans to meet with Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and the Maloof family, who own the Kings, on Sunday. They are facing a March 1 deadline to reach an agreement to finance a new arena. Without that, the team could be on the move.
"By March 1 we hope to either have a deal or not have a deal by March 1. We don't hope not to have a deal, but if we don't have a deal by March 1, my guess is we won't have a deal," he said.
He also said the league is negotiating with two groups of potential buyers for the Hornets. He hopes a deal can be completed within the next couple of weeks.