The mostly official blog of the Hodges Partnership.
February 15, 2012 | by Jon Newman
Consider that a week ago the NBA was its usual boring self with games not decided till the last two minutes. This was complicated by the fact that the lockout created a crammed schedule of games leading to crippled play on the court as teams were forced to play three nights in a row in different cities. For aging teams like the Celtics and Lakers it led to an awful brand of ball that had some wanted to chance the name of the league to the NGA or National Geriatric Association. Finally, in New York the Knicks, the NBA version of the team of misfit toys, were plodding around without a point guard scoring barely 80 points a night running an offensive system designed to score 120. It's coach was on death watch and the final nail was supposed to be its two best players missing games, one for an injury and one for a death in the family.
Enter Jeremy Lin. The Asian Harvard graduate point guard who was inserted into a game because frankly there was no one else left to play.
In one magical week, Lin has led the Knicks to six wins, averaged 27 points doing it and has become a national cult hero not seen in American sports since Fernandomania swept baseball in the '80s.
Knicks fans who have had no reason to watch the Knicks are watching. Sports fans who have had no reason to watch basketball are watching. Asians sports fans and non-sports fans are buying tickets to games in basketball hotbeds like Toronto (sorry Toronto) and donning number 17 jerseys and holding "LINsanity" posters. ESPN anchors are holding internal contests to try to find as many way as they can to insert LIN into catch phrases.
Up until this point there has been something very pure about this story, mainly because it just "happened." It wasn't created or manufactured or pushed on the American or global consciousness. Lin dribbles, passes, shoots, scores and is then extremely humble in interviews praising his teammates and his savior is a just enough non-Tebow way.
My hope as a fan, a PR person and a marketer is for once the NBA, ESPN and all their sports partners resist as long as they can to "push" the story. Let it continue to evolve naturally. Let's not make him do every late night show, find a way to involve him on All-Star weekend, create a million websites, social media channels and storylines. Let's just let this happen.
There's something genuine and honest about this, let's ride it for as long as we can without forcing it down our throats.
If the master marketers at the NBA can resist their long-time urge to market for the sake of marketing and ride the wave that would truly be refreshing and amazing. In the end, we might even call it LINcredible.