Argument for Jeremy Lin joining the Brooklyn Nets
The historical comparison is Steve Nash leaving the Mavericks as a proven point guard, a good player but a co-star, to become the team leader and a league MVP with the Suns. The Nets can be for Lin what the Suns were for Nash. Dirk Nowitzki was the Mavericks' centerpiece when Nash was the Mavs PG, and Nash had to leave Nowitzki and a very good Mavs team in order to become a superstar in his own right. As long as Anthony is the featured Knick, Lin can win and improve as a player with the Knicks, but the Knicks won't be his team, not like the Knicks were Lin's team during Linsanity. (The counter-example is Marbury leaving budding superstar Kevin Garnett and a promising young Timberwolves team only to fail as the leader of the Nets.)
The Nets can be Lin's team. The New Jersey Nets will become the Brooklyn Nets starting next, the 2012-2013, season. The franchise will be in search of a new brand and identity in their new home. They had hoped the Brooklyn team would be built around Deron Williams and Dwight Howard, but with Howard staying with the Magic, it looks like Williams likely will leave the Nets for the Mavericks. There is no better identity for NYC's new NBA franchise than one defined by Jeremy Lin's leadership, swagger, and tough, clutch, gutsy play on the court, and his grounded humility, meta self-awareness, and savvy public relations off the court. (Lin is very comfortable with social media.) Brooklyn is diverse, proudly ethnic, and full of immigrant stock, and Lin is an ethnic, 1st generation American exemplar. With Lin as the face of the franchise, the Nets would become the heirs of the Brooklyn Dodgers in that regard. Even Lin's evangelical Christianity would play better in the outer boroughs, where traditional religiosity is respected, than secular Manhattan.
Assuming Deron Williams is leaving, Lin and the Nets should be a perfect marriage. One or two more good years on the Knicks with play-off experience would refine Lin's game and solidify his New York fan base. The Nets will have all the makings of a rebuilding team with decent talent in search of a franchise-defining leader. A hungry, ready now-veteran Lin would slot right in as the Nets centerpiece just like Nash was an instant fit with the Suns. With Linsanity reborn in Brooklyn, the Nets would quickly win over New York as a rising, exciting, lovable team.
From a business perspective, the Nets projected fan base of Brooklyn basketball fans are Knicks fans right now. While it's reasonable to expect many, maybe most, Brooklynites will eventually convert to become Nets fans, the team would first have to prove itself to fans who are already loyal to a long-established local team. Meanwhile, the Linsanity streak has been mythologized. Ironically, his knee injury has raised Lin's public image in NYC. Knicks fans lamenting his loss have classified Lin a star. While Lin's game would be furthered by the Knicks holding on to the 8th seed and Lin recovering in time to gain precious play-off experience, his 'Q rating' would actually go up if the Knicks missed the play-offs due to his absence. In short, Lin is already adored by the NYC basketball fans whom the Nets need to win over and adding Lin would establish an instant fan base for the Nets by bringing many New York fans with him to the Nets. Finally, a Knicks-Nets subway rivalry with a Lin-led Nets versus a Melo-led Knicks would immediately electrify the city. The Nets ownership couldn't ask for a better start to their Brooklyn franchise.
Perhaps most importantly, I want Lin to stay in New York. If Lin signs long term with the Brooklyn Nets, I'd get to watch him all the time on a local broadcast. I don't mind if Lin leaves the Knicks, but only if he stays in NYC with the Nets.
Labels: jeremy lin