By Steve Kish
The clock struck midnight, and New York lost its Linderella. Opting not to match Houston’s offer to Jeremy Lin, the Knicks are banking on Lin being a flash. A one hit wonder.
Houston has gained one of the most talked about players in the NBA last season. They gain a potential floor general and a scoring threat. Lin brings many things to the court for Houston, but what he brings to Houston off the court may be even more rewarding.
Lin brings marketing, merchandise sales and media attention to a down franchise. This once was “Clutch City” with players nicknamed “The Jet,” “Akeem The Dream,” “ Big Shot Rob” and “Clyde the Glide.” Now it has Linsanity, Linstant offense, Linderella and so many more word plays on his name. Jeremy Lin is a huge marketable player for Houston, and the Knicks already built that in for them. Yes, New York is the biggest media market, but Lin built his “brand” in New York last season. Everyone said the same thing two years ago with Lebron. Networks even put up how much more he could make in New York just off marketing opportunities. Lebron still sits as the NBA’s biggest endorsement star. Lin is by all accounts going to get as many deals in Houston as he would have in New York.
Around six million people call metro Houston home. Six percent of those are Asian. When Yao Ming came into the league, one of his requirements for being drafted by and signing with a team was a high Asian population. Lin is of Taiwanese heritage and will draw a Yao-like following in the Houston area. This adds to Houston’s marketing reach and merchandising sales. The Houston Chronicle blog is already stating there is a high demand for Lin merchandise, and area stores are anticipating high sales of Lin jerseys and other merchandise. Imagine going to a Rockets game and seeing a red t-shirt that reads, “Houston’s on another Linning streak” with a Lin silhouette in the background. Off the shelves they will fly.
When Lin was on his hot streak in New York, the Knicks’ average household rating went up 70 percent. Talk about being able to drive commercial sales with those numbers. On top of that, it was stated that increased Knicks merchandise sales would be worth single digit millions. Lin drives more than the lane on the hardwood. He drives marketing, arena capacity and merchandising. Houston may look bad for that third year of his contract, $14.8 million, but they will make up all that money in a Linstant with all he brings with him.