SBD/July 18, 2012/Franchises

Jeremy Lin Seen As Key Component In Rockets' Effort To Attract The Asian Market

Lin will be large part of Rockets' effort to attract Chinese fan base
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).
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