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Jeremy Lin: Ex-couch surfer rolling in the dough

  • NBA star Jeremy Lin is making bank, for himself and others
  • Ticket, merchandise sales are rising along with the spirits of Lin's supporters
Jeremy Lin: Ex-couch surfer rolling in the dough

Lin on the Feb 20th cover of Sports Illustrated

It's not even close to over. Jeremy Lin brought the Knicks from behind Tuesday to tie the Raptors and then drained a game-winning three pointer with seconds on the clock, leading the Knicks to their sixth straight win.

“I’m just glad it went like this so we can calm the Lin-sanity down,” quipped Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni. He knows as well as anyone that it won’t happen anytime soon.

In the last two weeks we’ve witnessed this onset of Lin-sanity, which has led not only to the Lin-troduction of a Lin-sufferable catchphrase, but also a meteoric rise in money matters surrounding the sudden Knicks star.

From the couch to the court

Since Jeremy Lin’s surprising rise from an afterthought on the New York roster to basketball phenom, Madison Square Garden Entertainment has seen a 13% jump in stock prices, including an unprecedented 3.8% rise Monday which resulted in a record-high price of $32.32. In addition, attendance at the Garden has been more than healthy and sales of Lin memorabilia, though a nominal contribution to the bottom line, have also risen. Tuesday's game in Toronto was a sellout, just the second in 13 home games for the Raptors.

Meanwhile, Lin has reportedly been couch surfing. It’s not that Lin couldn’t afford a place of his own, but his uncertain state with the Knicks led the 23-year-old to crash with family and friends instead of settle down prematurely. One of Lin’s friends even tweeted a picture of the couch he slept on (hopefully without all of the throw pillows) the night before his career-changing February 3 debut.

Lin’s days of crashing on couches are clearly over. He’ll soon be moving into the swanky Trump Towers in White Plains, New York. The Knicks recently solidified his place on the roster to the tune of $788,000 for the rest of the season. It’s certainly not pocket change, but teammate Carmelo Anthony, who has missed most of the games that have made Lin a star, will reportedly make around $18.5 million. A recent tweet from CNBC sports reporter Darren Rovell claimed, “The Knicks pay Jeremy Lin $11,801 per game. The Knicks pay Carmelo Anthony $11,763 every 2 ½ in-game MINUTES.

From the court to the community

Race has been a large part of conversations about Lin’s remarkable magnetism. He is the first Taiwanese-American to play in the NBA, and his success has galvanized a community of Asian-Americans who thrill at seeing a basketball star they can identify with. Throw in a Harvard education, an affable demeanor and, heck, a good amount of talent, and New York gets an unlikely star worth rooting for.

Fans of all kinds crowded into bars in New York City Tuesday to see if Lin could pull off another win. “To see an actual live Asian-American hero unfold before our eyes, it really is something special to us,” one Taiwanese-American fan told the LA Times. “It means a lot more than anyone could ever imagine.”

While some considered Lin’s success a fluke, his winning streak seems to suggest his story will remain in the public imagination for quite a while. And where there is unexpected success, there are ticket sales, contracts, jerseys, merchandise, articles, tweets, headlines, offers, and people crowded around a TV at a local bar, hoping for a hero. 

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