Lin talk boosts NBA - New York Daily News

Business is good for Knicks  and NBA  Monday night at Garden in first rematch with Nets since Linsanity began, with showdown in Miami looming on Thursday for media sensation Jeremy Lin. Robert Sabo/Daily News

Robert Sabo/New York Daily News

Business is good for Knicks — and NBA — Monday night at Garden in first rematch with Nets since Linsanity began, with showdown in Miami looming on Thursday for media sensation Jeremy Lin.

Until further notice, Jeremy Lin will not only be driving local ratings for Knicks telecasts on Madison Square Garden Network, but for the NBA's national TV partners as well.

This is good news for David Stern, who, after a contentious lockout where players and owners were portrayed as greedy pigs, could not have been optimistic about the NBA's prospects of killing it at the TV box office in this condensed season.

Here's more music for the commissioner's ears: As the Knicks' meeting with the Heat approaches in Miami, it would be shocking if the game not only isn't the highest-rated cablecast of the season, but also the highest-rated NBA regular-season game ever.

Much of this has to do with Lin, and the Knicks' assortment of personalities, still being a curiosity. Some fans don't have a handle on what's happening. They are not believers. Nonetheless the story has spread from coast-to-coast. This isn't just a New York thing.

Just when the story was running out of angles it gets a hard edge, an element of controversy. That never hurts.

And that's what happens when suits at a monolithic company like ESPN instruct their on-camera personalities, like Michael Wilbon, to read a statement apologizing to Lin and the Asian community for editor Anthony Federico using the "chink in the armor" headline on ESPN's mobile website early Saturday morning. Federico, who said he made an "honest mistake," was fired. Max Bretos, an anchor, used the same phrase during an interview with Walt Frazier and received a slap on the wrist in the form of a 30-day suspension.

There's even more controversy inside the controversy. Spero Dedes, the radio voice of the Knicks who works for James (Guitar Jimmy) Dolan, who also employs Lin, voiced the line Friday night after the Knicks' 89-85 loss to the Hornets. So far he's yet to be "punished" by Garden execs. But you've got to believe that ESPN, which owns the Knicks radio rights, is asking the following questions: If we took action against our guys, what are you (MSG) going to do?

Throughout the rise of Lin, the media has been accused of juicing the story, even by basketball purists who get paid to analyze the game. Like Jeff Van Gundy. Sunday on ABC, in the fourth quarter of Magic-Heat, JVG said the media has "overblown" Lin's "struggle."

Van Gundy said the "struggle" has not been quite that. It's only been a year-and-a-half one and Lin has been in the NBA a lot of that time, including a couple of D-League stints.

"There are minor league baseball players who have toiled for years and years and years. Other NBA players have had a much harder path (than Lin) to a significant role in the NBA," Van Gundy said. "We take what's a great story and we bludgeon people with it. Like he's not just playing great basketball, it's he's living on a couch. Pretty soon we're going to have him homeless."

21 Feb, 2012


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