HoopsHype Lanny Smith rumors

March 29, 2012 Updates

The conversation couldn't have come at a better time for Minnesota Timberwolves forward Anthony Tolliver and former NBA D-Leaguer Lanny Smith, who have started a company that makes sports apparel with Christian messages. Lin is a big supporter, wearing Active Faith wristbands emblazoned with "IJNIP" — In Jesus' Name I Play — during games. And the two friends have already recruited Golden State Warriors star guard Stephen Curry and San Diego Padres pitcher Micah Owings as investors in a company that is owned exclusively by athletes. Wall Street Journal

Smith suffered a career-ending knee injury that season. While he was lying in bed recuperating from microfracture surgery, he started to think about what he was going to do with a life that had been consumed by basketball since he was a kid. He wanted to meld his faith and love of sports through an apparel line and went to Tolliver when he was looking for investors. "He said when you're ready to move forward with this if you need any help with it, I'm there," Smith said. "A lot of guys will give you that lip service, and when it comes to the moment of truth they'll disappear. Anthony stood by that word." Wall Street Journal

Smith got linked with Lin through friend Patrick Ewing Jr., who was Lin's teammate in Reno, and the Asian-American point guard started wearing the wristbands in games. The two first met face to face in Houston, when the Rockets claimed Lin off waivers. Shortly after, Lin was waived again and picked up by the Knicks, who returned for a game against the Rockets less than two weeks later. "I remember waiting at the Knicks bus and there were all these fans waiting to see Amare (Stoudemire) and Carmelo (Anthony)," Smith said with a chuckle. "Lin just walked off the bus and nobody asked him for an autograph or anything. We just stood there chatting. That will NEVER happen again." Wall Street Journal

"All these pictures across the world with him rocking our bands," Tolliver said. "Basically at that time, our website launched. It just was crazy after that." The website — MyActiveFaith.com — crashed three times before they were able to get a dedicated server to handle the traffic and they sold 10,000 wristbands in the first two weeks. "Nike, Adidas, Reebok, UnderArmour, they'll never make a faith-based product. They'll never really crossover and touch that," Smith said. "We felt that this was a niche and a market that we could create. That's what we plan on doing, almost being the Nike of the Christian sports apparel." Wall Street Journal

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