Jeremy Lin: Mega-Celebrity Potential Will Keep Star Knicks PG in New York
Jeremy Lin may not seem like the kind of guy who puts much stock in typical priorities like fame and fortune.
The faith-first point guard has thus far eschewed the opportunities to leverage his countless headlines into any kind of "me-first" agenda. But even Lin can't control the abilities of fans and media outlets alike to transform him into a larger-than-life celebrity.
Given the choice between making the most of that attention and rolling the dice with a new club, it's hard to imagine even the most humbled stars choosing the latter.
While Lin's agent is cautioning against any assumptions about his client's future, there are too many good reasons for the two-year guard to remain with the New York Knicks—reasons born from on-court and off-court considerations alike.
From a basketball perspective, the case for keeping the status quo is both obvious and virtually airtight.
The Knicks simply don't have any better options. Iman Shumpert is more of an off-guard, and Baron Davis is more of an old guard. Meanwhile, Lin is a young floor general who can pass, shoot and get to the paint. That means plenty of minutes for a guy who's already proven he can succeed under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden.
From a business perspective, this franchise would have to be stubbornly crazy not to match whatever offers come Lin's way.
With not even a full season under his belt, Lin and his Knicks had already begun to cash in on a relationship as lucrative as almost any in the NBA, as evidenced by Forbes' Mike Ozanian profiling the first wave of Lin-related deals all the way back on March 25:
Not only has Lin added value to JP Morgan’s $300 million sponsorship of Madison Square Garden, but Lin’s number 17 jersey continues to be the league’s top seller. As my colleague Chris Smith recently wrote, according to an ESPN poll Lin is more popular in New York than Derek Jeter.
Moreover, Lin continues to boost sponsorship revenue. Taiwan’s Acer Inc. and the New York Knicks announced a marketing partnership in mid-March that will allow the PC vendor’s logo to be featured courtside at the Knicks’ home court for the remainder of the 2011-12 NBA season. And last week Lin inked a marketing deal for several international markets with Volvo, while Coca-Cola said it plans to use Lin’s popularity to connect with Chinese consumers.
It should go without saying that these aren't the kinds of opportunities Lin should expect to find with just any other team.
More importantly, the Knicks won't cash in like this with just any other star.
In New York, Lin creates a virtually irreplaceable kind of value—a value every bit as unique as Lin's story and persona. The franchise might be able to find point guards with similar skill sets, but it won't find anyone with an equally compelling brand.
Lin is the quintessential under-the-radar, rags-to-riches bundle of clichés every organization dreams of one day acquiring.
It doesn't hurt that the guy can run one heck of a pick-and-roll, but that won't be the principal reason that New York ponies up the big bucks this summer.
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