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SBD/July 18, 2012/FranchisesPrint All
The Knicks last night “cut ties” with G Jeremy Lin, “ending a brief, spectacular and now-bittersweet love affair between” Lin and an adoring fan base, according to Howard Beck of the N.Y. TIMES. Lin will play next season for the Rockets, who “signed him to a three-year, $25.1 million offer sheet that the Knicks chose not to match.” The Knicks’ “most popular player in more than a decade, who rose from obscurity, saved their season and became a global sensation, is gone.” Now comes “the inevitable backlash from an embittered fan base that is suspicious of the Knicks’ motives and already disdainful” of team Owner James Dolan’s leadership. As the news of Lin’s impending departure spread yesterday, fans on Twitter “lashed out at Dolan and Knicks management.” Some “renounced their loyalty to the team and said they would root for the Brooklyn-bound Nets” (N.Y. TIMES, 7/18). On Long Island, Al Iannazzone writes despite his “extreme popularity with fans and the revenue he generates with his off-the-court appeal, it was doubtful Lin … would be back following the events of the previous four days” (NEWSDAY, 7/18). FOXSPORTS.com’ Sam Gardner writes Lin’s footprint in Texas “will never compare to the one he left on the Knicks, the city of New York and the sport of basketball on a global scale during one of the most unorthodox, short-lived tenures the game has ever seen” (FOXSPORTS.com, 7/18).
DUMB & DUMBER: ESPN N.Y.’s Ian O’Connor writes Dolan just made “one of the dumbest moves of his basketball life, which is saying a mouthful.” Lin was “going places, and now he's going, going, gone.” But the Knicks “ran off Lin anyway, if only to make the point that nobody … crosses Jim Dolan and gets away with it” (ESPNNY.com, 7/18). GRANTLAND.com’s Jay Caspian King wrote under the header, “Dumb Move, Dolan.” The failure to re-sign Lin, “despite months of guarantees, seems to be the latest in a line of silly, PR-inspired bumblings by a man who has continually thought, out-thought, rethought, and then un-thought himself” (GRANTLAND.com, 7/17). CBSSPORTS.com’s Gregg Doyel wrote Lin is the “most remarkable, most marketable thing to happen to the NBA since [Heat F] LeBron James.” Doyel: “Other than the rise, fall and rise again of LeBron, this league and the nation -- no, the world -- of NBA fans haven't been captivated by anything the way we were last season by Jeremy Lin. ... Whoever’s calling the shots for the Knicks is a buffoon, and I really hope it’s owner James Dolan” (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/17). ESPN’s Mike Greenberg said, “Of all the places for a franchise to draw a line, they drew it at the one guy who made them likable again" ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN Radio, 7/18). ESPN.com’s John Hollinger wrote under the header, “Knicks Pick Bad Time To Be Frugal.” The “shocking thing” about the Knicks’ decision is that it “flies completely in the face of their entire rationale in building this team.” But this “was a money decision, and keeping Lin was going to cost some serious cash” (ESPN.com, 7/17).
MONEY OR BASKETBALL? In Newark, Alex Raskin wrote even someone as “impossibly rich” as Dolan “should think twice about committing around $55 million for one season of a player who was practically free a year ago.” There is the “outside chance that this is a basketball decision -- something seen as an impossibility by the Knicks' cynical breed of fan” (NJ.com, 7/17). In N.Y., Frank Isola writes the feeling inside the organization is that the Knicks “gave Lin a chance and helped to create his brand only to have him negotiate a deal that made it cost-prohibitive to keep him” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/18). Isola added, "Jeremy Lin needs New York, in my opinion, more than New York needs him, because that’s where he’s really going to make a lot of that money off-the-court” (“Daily News Live,” SportsNet N.Y., 7/17). In N.Y., Mike Lupica writes the hype on Lin “was bigger than he was, people acting as if this was one more Knick calamity to go with so many others over the past decade.” Lupica: “No, this was just business, for Jeremy Lin, for his agents, for the Rockets, for the New York Knicks. Again: If Dolan and his basketball guys thought he was worth the money and the taxes, they would have figured out a way” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/18). CBSSPORTS.com’s Ken Berger writes, “If the Knicks are wrong, does that mean, in turn, that the Rockets are right? ... Does logic follow that Jeremy Lin will be a $14.9 million basketball player three years from now? Can anyone say that with certainty?” (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/18).
SPONSORSHIP HITS LESS THAN POISON PILL: ESPN's Darren Rovell noted the Knicks have a sponsorship deal with Taiwan-based tire manufacturer Maxxis International and the team will "probably be out a couple of million dollars." However, that is "not enough when you analyze and think about that third year” in Lin's contract. Lin is scheduled to earn $14.9M that year, which would cost the Knicks another $35M when luxury-tax penalties are factored in. Rovell said the Knicks think that if they "continue to win, ratings will be there for their MSG Network and that will lead to their stock price." Rovell: "The Knicks believe from a business standpoint … that this is the best move” ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 7/17).
By signing G Jeremy Lin from the Knicks, the Rockets “jumped at the chance to reacquire their popularity in China, where Yao Ming became a larger-than-life figure” during his time with the club, according to Chris Duncan of the AP. Many Rockets players landed “lucrative shoe contracts with Chinese companies on Yao's coattails, and Rockets' games drew massive television ratings there.” Octagon First Call Managing Dir David Schwab said that while Lin “is an American success story, he will reopen marketing in-roads for Houston [established] during Yao's eight seasons” (AP, 7/18). SI.com’s Sam Amick writes Lin “is no Yao Ming, of course, but he is the closest thing the Rockets have had to an international attraction since the Chinese center retired.” He is “sure to be good for the Rockets' business, but Lin's basketball contributions, or lack thereof, will certainly be scrutinized” (SI.com, 7/18). In Houston, Jonathan Feigen wrote the acquisition of Lin “could be a marketing bonanza for the Rockets just as they are launching a new television network while undergoing a radical overhaul of the roster.” But the goal is “not to replace Yaomania with Linsanity.” The Rockets “would benefit from Lin’s great popularity, especially within the Asian community and with Chinese sponsorships, but more immediately, the team needs a point guard” (CHRON.com, 7/17). ESPN's Darren Rovell noted the Rockets “need to sell seats, and we know that there are a ton of Asian-Americans in Houston.” That demo has been “gone from Rockets games for the most part” since Yao retired. Rovell: “One factor that no one’s mentioned so far is that (Rockets Owner) Les Alexander has developed some business in China since Yao came to the Rockets. It makes it a little bit better for him now to have Jeremy Lin” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 7/17). NBA TV’s Brevin Knight said of the Rockets, "They need a face to their franchise, they now have that face. ... It’s a big gamble, but it’s a good gamble for the Rockets. They are re-starting their organization. They needed some type of hype going into this year” (“NBA GameTime,” NBA TV, 7/17).
STORES READY TO STOCK UP: In Houston, Randy Harvey wrote, “Score one for sporting goods stories in Houston.” When Lin “became the overnight sensation in New York last season, sales of Knicks goods, mostly his jerseys and T-shirts, increased by, oh, about 3,000 percent.” His jersey in February and March “was the hottest-selling one in the NBA.” In a one-year period between April ‘11-April ‘12, his jerseys “sold more than any other NBA’s player” except for Bulls G Derrick Rose. And Lin “didn’t even play for about 10 months of that time.” A Houston-area Sports Authority employee said, “Obviously, this is going to be a big plus for us. Now it’s the scramble to get the jerseys in.” The employee also said that it “could take three or four days or two weeks depending on how quickly they could be manufactured and shipped.” Harvey: “I would guess there’s a rush order on them” (CHRON.com, 7/17). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Christian Red notes business owners like Modell’s Sporting Goods CEO Mitch Modell “are lamenting Linsanity’s end.” Modell said that fans “will have a ‘field day’ starting Wednesday, when the roughly 40,000 Lin-related items sold at the chain will have prices slashed significantly” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/18). Also in N.Y., Kerber & Berman note NetsDaily, "an online treasure trove of all stories regarding the rival Brooklyn Nets, proposed fans exchange their Jeremy Lin Knicks gear for free Nets T-shirts” (N.Y. POST, 7/18).
In San Diego, Bill Center reports the "parties to the pending Padres sale met in New York City on Monday and Tuesday with Steve Greenberg of the Allen & Co. brokerage company." Prospective buyer the O’Malley Group’s exclusive negotiating window with Padres Chair John Moores "has been extended through at least this week." Greenberg and Moag & Company's John Moag "were retained earlier this spring to advise Moores on the sale." Liquid Investments Chair & CEO and Padres investor Ron Fowler "is also in New York representing the minority owners" from the group Padres Vice Chair Jeff Moorad put together in 2009 in his failed effort to buy the team from Moores (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 7/18).
WHEN YOU ASSUME...: In Tampa, Stephen Holder noted although the Buccaneers' decision to adopt the NFL's new blackout policy "is extremely popular among fans, nothing is guaranteed when it comes to seeing games on TV." Holder: "To that end, let's take a look at how things might play out." Reaching the league's new non-premium ticket sales threshold of 85% "seems achievable, but a look at some recent attendance figures shows the challenges the Bucs still face." The Rams-Buccaneers game in October '10 drew 42,020 to Raymond James Stadium, which has just over 51,000 non-premium seats. Because that number is total attendance, it means the "number of non-premium seats sold was even less." Even under the "new system, which makes blackouts far less likely, nothing can be assumed" (TAMPABAY.com, 7/17).
JAZZ 'HORNS: The NBA announced yesterday that the Reno Bighorns have been "named the D-League affiliate" of the Jazz. In Salt Lake City, Jody Genessy notes the Bighorns also have affiliations with the Grizzlies and Kings for the '12-13 season. After the D-League Utah Flash folded in '11, the Jazz were "affiliated with the Idaho Stampede for a season." But the Stampede "became the sole affiliate of the Portland Trail Blazers this past spring, forcing the Jazz to find a new partner" (DESERET NEWS, 7/18).