Red Bull

Updated: March 10, 2005, 7:23 AM ET
By Jerry Bembry |
He strolls up to the VIP entrance of a Denver nightclub with a couple of friends, which, for All-Star Weekend, leaves Kirk Hinrich about eight shy of a posse. He walks the red carpet dressed like he's headed to class, not to a party: blue jeans, white Converse, long-sleeve black Lacoste pullover with red and white stripes. That gator on the left breast is as throwback as he's willing to go. As he and his boys hit the front door, a couple of bouncers inside the velvet rope yawn. With no floss and no fur, Hinrich barely gets noticed. And he'll tell you that's just the way he likes it.

Well, maybe -- but sooner or later the lack of interest is bound to stop. Last season the kid from Sioux City, Iowa, joined LeBron, Carmelo, D-Wade and Chris Bosh on the All-Rookie First Team, and he was the only one of the crew to record a triple-double. "Some guys get respect based on their reputation," Hinrich says. "I have to earn mine every time I walk on the court. It's always been that way for me. It'll always be that way for me."

Being a white point guard has made him a bit of a lightning rod from the beginning. "I've been in AAU games where the opposing coach, who never saw me play, would scream 'shooter, shooter' as soon as I got the ball," he says. "Or I'd guard a guy and the coach would yell, 'take him.' People look at me and never give me a fair shot."