• 46°

NBA: Houston prepares for Linsanity

Associated Press
HOUSTON — Jeremy Lin loves New York. He wanted to stay.
Even so, it was more important to him to be on the court as a starting point guard, and he’s convinced the Houston Rockets will put him there.
“They made a very compelling pitch in terms of what I could bring to the team and for the city,” Lin said in a statement released through the team Wednesday, less than 24 hours after the Knicks decided not to match Houston’s bold three-year, $25 million offer sheet. “I am also impressed with (Houston owner Leslie) Alexander and the management’s commitment to improving the team.”
The Rockets put out the statement not long after SI.com reported that Lin had acknowledged in an interview, “Honestly, I preferred New York. But my main goal in free agency was to go to a team that had plans for me and wanted me. I wanted to have fun playing basketball.”
Fun is what the 23-year-old undrafted guard was all about last season.
Coming out of nowhere — well, Harvard, by way of Golden State and then Houston — Lin got to New York when the Knicks claimed him off waivers in December. He was briefly demoted to the developmental league, recalled, and got his chance to play when coach Mike D’Antoni put him in with the Knicks floundering at 8-15.
He scored 25 points in a 99-92 win over New Jersey Nets and “Linsanity” was born. Soon New York was in playoff contention and Lin was having drinks named after him.
Lin said Wednesday that he “loved this past year with the Knicks and truly appreciate the opportunity that New York gave me,” even though the team decided to let him go.
“The way the fans fully embraced me and our team was something I’ll always cherish forever,” he said. “It was an extraordinary and unforgettable time that was easily the best year of my life.”
And now it’s on to Houston, which made its move and got its man.
Why did the Rockets go for him? Because it made basketball sense and marketing sense.
The Rockets not only filled a position of need, but also snagged a player who may re-establish the franchise in Asia, where the team enjoyed massive popularity during Yao Ming’s career.
Lin is American-born, but of Chinese and Taiwanese descent, and his timing is perfect to capitalize on the NBA’s explosive growth in China. He’ll wear No. 7 for the Rockets, a change from the No. 17 he wore with the Knicks. The team began taking pre-orders for Lin jerseys online on Wednesday.
Yao was widely credited with breaking open the Chinese market for the NBA, but his retirement last summer hasn’t slowed the game’s growth or popularity.
Television ratings for live NBA games on CCTV5, the national network in China, were up 21 percent in 2011-12 from the previous season, the league said. The NBA had about 16 million followers on social media when Yao retired, and that number spiked to 49 million last season, the league said.
Marc Ganis, president of Chicago-based SportsCorp, says the Rockets will be able to build on Lin’s marketability.
“There is still a lot of interest in the Rockets in China, even without Yao,” Ganis said. “This is clearly an effort to get a good player, but also capitalize on the in-roads that the team has already made with Chinese sponsors and the fans there.”
Reaction among fans closer to home was muted, although Lin was the talk of sports radio in Houston all day and exploded on social media. Since the acquisition became official late Tuesday night, the Rockets’ Twitter page has picked up 3,000 new followers and the Facebook page added 10,000 “likes.”

Comments

Comments closed.

Crime

Man charged after thieves rob would-be gun buyers of wallets, shoes

Crime

Blotter: Four added to sheriff’s most wanted list

High School

High school football: Some anxious moments, but Hornets win state title

Local

Photos: Salisbury High Hornets win big in 2AA championship game

Local

County manager outlines projections for the upcoming fiscal year budget, suggests uses for stimulus money

Business

Miami-based Browns Athletic Apparel opens second screen printing location in Salisbury

News

At funeral, fallen Watauga deputies remembered as ‘heroes’

Coronavirus

COVID-19 cluster identified at Granite Quarry Elementary

Coronavirus

More than half of North Carolinians have now taken at least one vaccine shot

Local

City hopes to cover expenses in 2021-22 budget with surplus revenue generated this year

Local

Fallen tree proves to be a blessing for local nonprofit Happy Roots

Local

Quotes of the week

Coronavirus

Health department drops quarantine time from 14 to 10 days

Crime

Blotter: More than $100,000 in property reported stolen from Old Beatty Ford Road site

Local

City fights invasive beetles by injecting trees with insecticide

Local

City names downtown recipients for federal Parks Service grant

China Grove

China Grove Town Council weighs 2021-22 budget priorities, supports buying body cameras

Education

Educators reflect on Teacher Appreciation Week

Education

Livingstone College wins $30,000 Home Depot grant

Education

Shoutouts

News

Shield-A-Badge With Prayer program enters 26th year, accepting volunteers to pair with officers

Education

COVID-19 infection, quarantine numbers in Rowan-Salisbury Schools reach new highs

High School

High school football: Offensive line came together for Hornets, who play for state title tonight

Local

Pro baseball: White makes pro debut and says, ‘It felt amazing to be out there’