Jeremy Lin saving NBA season? - CBS News

(CBS News) 

The National Basketball Association's overnight sensation, Jeremy Lin, proved he is human last night with a bad game in Miami, as the New York Knicks lost to the Heat.

But Lin's remarkable run - which has come to be known as "Lin-sanity" - is still the talk of the sports world, his sudden celebrity showing no sign of fading.

Longtime NBA commissioner David Stern said yesterday he's never seen a player create so much buzz, so fast, as Lin. Not Michael Jordan, not Magic Johnson - no one.

Some people even say Lin is saving the labor-dispute-shortened NBA season.

It's hard to remember a regular-season game as big as the Knicks-Heat match last night. Tickets were going for much more than usual on the resale market.

Why? Largely, Jeremy Lin.

Lebron James welcomed the new star to Miami with a statement early in the game - a thunderous dunk.

The pace was intense. A furious first half, back-and-forth, the lead changing hands. But in the third quarter, the Knicks couldn't keep pace, and Miami pulled away, winning by a comfortable 14 points.

"They did a great job of making me uncomfortable," Lin admitted after the game.

Former star Reggie Miller, an analyst on TNT, which televised the game, called it "a blessing in disguise game for Jeremy Lin"

And while it was Lin's worst outing, it's hard to overstate his influence.

In just under three weeks, the point guard's Twitter followers have increased from 190,000 to more than half a million, and his jersey has become the best-selling in the league. Lin's influence has also caused a threefold increase in Knick ticket sales across the board.

His arrival hardly could have been better-timed, after an acrimonious NBA lockout that lasted five months and threatened the entire season.

"Jeremy Lin is the best thing that could have ever happened to the NBA," says sports industry expert Robert Tuchman. "The fact that this guy plays in New York and is the key to China and the Chinese marketplace (Lin is of Taiwanese descent) is just incredible. The NBA could not have scripted it any better."

The league is pulling in fans who would never have watched before. One said, "I've never been to an NBA game in my life, and this is my chance." Said another: "I'm usually not a basketball fan, but I'm so into this whole Lin thing. He's awesome. I can't wait to see him play."

But even though Lin's star power is still on the uptick, he'll have to win to live up to his newfound fame, and a marketing cachet that could number in the billions.

"If he continues to play well over the rest of the season," Tuchman observes, "if the Knicks can go to the playoffs and do well as a team, he's gonna be the real deal."

But New York tabloids wasted no time panning Lin's performance Friday. The New York Post's back page headline was "Linept." And the Daily News' was "Linvisible."

24 Feb, 2012

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