Let me begin by saying that everyone writes from a biased point of view. And this is no exception. I’m Asian American, grew up next to New York City, and I’ve even played basketball with Jeremy Lin’s brother (dentist who owned the couch Jeremy famously slept on). All this to say, I am unabashedly a Jeremy Lin fan.
But I’m also not delusional.
From a basketball perspective, Jeremy Lin isn’t worth the “ridiculous” contract that he just received from the Houston Rockets. He struggles bringing the ball up the court, has no left, and is very turnover prone. For a point guard, Lin’s assist to turnover ratio is horrendous. For as many good things that Lin does on the court, he does just as many bad things.
At the same time, Lin was basically a rookie last year. So, no one knows for sure how high Jeremy’s ceiling really will be. In all likelihood, Jeff Van Gundy is right; he’ll either be a great reserve or a decent starter, but a superstar he will never be.
At least basketball wise.
In every other sense, Lin is a superstar. In fact, he’s a lot bigger than that. Lin is a global icon. Last year, he was in Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. How many athletes make a list with presidents and Pulitzer Prize winners? Linsanity cannot be measured strictly from basketball economics. He brings far more to the table than just that. Jersey sales, casual fans, ticket sales, and a global market are just some of the things attached to Jeremy Lin. Is it any coincidence that the New York Knicks have already seen their stock drop since last night? I think not.
To replace Lin, the Knicks have signed 40-year-old Jason Kidd who was just arrested for a DWI and a pudgy Raymond Felton who uses the basketball season to basically get in shape. The Knicks also have a long history of handing out and signing bad contracts (Jerome James, Eddy Curry, Amare Stoudemire). But for whatever reason, James Dolan felt like Lin was the one bad contract that he couldn’t afford.
The irony in all of this is that regardless of what Dolan had to pay in luxury taxes for Lin, the brand behind Linsanity could’ve paid for itself. Instead, Dolan and the Knicks find themselves in the luxury tax even without Lin.
Make no mistake, the hype around Jeremy Lin makes it seem like he’s a much better player than he really is. But the Knicks failed to see that Jeremy Lin is more than just a basketball player. He’s a culture changer; be it for Knicks fans, Asian-Americans, Ivy Leaguers, D-Leaguers, and for all the average people out there in the world who are busting their tails off trying to catch a break. A value that you simply can not put a price on.