A new NBA star, Jeremy Lin becomes a bankable name

NEW YORK Wed Feb 15, 2012 4:01pm EST

New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin looks to pass against the Toronto Raptors during the first half of their NBA basketball game in Toronto February 14, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Cassese

New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin looks to pass against the Toronto Raptors during the first half of their NBA basketball game in Toronto February 14, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Cassese

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Less than two weeks ago anyone looking to buy a ticket to watch the New York Knicks play the Dallas Mavericks this weekend could expect to pay around $270. Today, the same ticket would cost about twice that.

Call it Linflation.

Jeremy Lin's surprising basketball heroics have made the 23-year-old point guard a sports sensation and media darling nearly overnight, and there are no shortage of entrepreneurs trying to cash in.

Already, two men have attempted to trademark the catchphrase "Linsanity" - a favorite of headline writers and National Basketball Association fans - in hopes of having exclusive rights to plaster the word across T-shirts, hats and baby bibs. A third man has asked the United States Patent and Trademark Office for the rights to "Lin-sanity" and "Lin-credible."

"Jeremy Lin needs to be careful and hire the right advisors and lawyers to protect his name," said Marc Ganis, president of sports consulting firm Sportscorp Ltd. "There are people all over the planet who are looking to financially capitalize on the Jeremy Lin phenomenon."

Lin, a Taiwanese-American whose roots make him marketable in Asia, graced both the front and back covers of the New York Post and Daily News on Wednesday, the day after hitting a game-winning, 3-point shot to propel the Knicks to their sixth straight win.

Even President Barack Obama has taken notice. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama watched highlights of the Knicks dramatic win over the Toronto Raptors and came away "very impressed" with Lin.

The last-second shot added to the buzz swirling around Lin, who got his chance only because of injuries and the struggling form of the Knicks, who were 8-15 before he took charge on the floor in the absence of their two top scorers, Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire.

The 6-foot-3-inch Lin was not recruited by any of the major U.S. college basketball powers and went undrafted in 2010 by NBA teams. Two other NBA teams released him this season before the Knicks picked him up.

Now, after averaging 26.8 points during the six-game winning streak, he's the hottest sports star in New York, with his jersey flying off the shelves of local stores.

In anticipation of Wednesday's game between the Knicks and Sacramento Kings, Modell's Sporting Goods announced it has placed a rush delivery of Lin merchandise that will be available before tipoff at its flagship Times Square store.

On the web, fans can buy "Lin Your Face" and "LIN.Y.C." shirts from the site www.linsanity.com. The field could grow even more crowded before long. The domain names "Linsanity.com," "Lincredible.com," "JeremyLin.com" and "TheJeremyLinShow.com" have already been registered.

For the really serious fan, Lin's uniform, including his jersey, shorts, warm-up pants, and warm-up shirt, from a game against the Golden State Warriors in late December can be bought on eBay for $100,000. Lin sat on the bench the entire game.

It wasn't until February 4 that Lin made a splash with an improbable 25-point, five-rebound, seven-assist game, a performance that kicked off the Lin craze.

Since then, average Knicks ticket prices have climbed around 17 percent on sites such as eBay, StubHub and Ticketmaster, said Chris Matcovich, director of data and communications for TiqIQ, which tracks ticket sales.

Ticket's for Wednesday's game against the Kings are averaging $414.05 - about 175 percent over their average before "Linsanity" broke out.

"Every win, it's just going up a little more," said Matcovich.

Matcovich, 25, is among the fortunate fans heading to Madison Square Garden for Wednesday's game, which will be the first time he has seen Lin play in person.

"It's going to be rocking," he said.

Still, Matcovich sold his tickets to the upcoming game against the NBA champion Mavericks, getting $135 for seats with a face value of $52.

"I just couldn't pass that up," he said, admitting to mixed emotions. "It's just that it was nearly triple what I paid."

(Editing by Daniel Trotta)

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