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NBA players part of new Christian sports apparel company

Mar 30, 2012, 3:06 PM EDT

Dallas Mavericks v New York Knicks Getty Images

There are some very devout Christians playing and coaching in the NBA. Maybe the most visable is Warriors coach Mark Jackson, who also is minister of a church in Los Angeles. But the NBA does not have a guy whose faith is so tied to his persona as is the case with Tim Tebow.

But some of those players — including the Knicks’ Jeremy Lin — have found a new way to wear their faith in public. Literally.

Minnesota’s Anthony Tolliver along with D-Leaguer Lanny Smith have launched a new Christian sporting apparel line, as he told the Associated Press.

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.

“It kind of blew up on us overnight and it turned from something that me an Anthony were working on growing step by step to something that turned global,” Smith said.

Sports apparel is a tough market to penetrate — it’s a crowded field. But as far as I know this is a different approach, one that might both appeal to a segment of the market and cut through the clutter.

Plus, there’s not much better or bigger marketing these days than Lin.

But Tolliver says it’s not about that.

“I never, ever, in a million years thought I would be involved in a clothing company,” Tolliver said. “I was like nah, I would never do that. This is something that’s way more meaningful than just making money.”

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