The Brooklyn Nets are making Jeremy Lin the face of the franchise, and it’s before he’s even played a single game for his new team. The combination of being everything head coach Kenny Atkinson and general manager Bobby Marks are about from a basketball philosophy standpoint, and his huge marketing potential, makes him incredibly valuable to a franchise that’s fighting for recognition in a city and league that usually forgets about them.
Brett Yormark, the CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, spoke with TenCent QQ Sports in China, and made it perfectly clear how big the expectations are out of Lin, from both a basketball standpoint and their ideas regarding his brand, and how it can help the Nets breach a very lucrative market. Obviously, he tried to stay away from the whole Linsanity labeling, something Lin himself has been trying to get away from, but every time someone on the Nets speaks about Lin, it’s clear he’s invaluable to the franchise, even more so than an established All-Star like Brook Lopez, who might be a very good player, but isn’t exactly the embodiment of star quality. Lin, despite a career that has had its ups & downs, including moving around quite a bit, has that kind of potential, even beyond the obvious Asian-American market.
Maybe the thing that stood out the most, in my eyes at least, was something Yormark said about Lin being the prize of the Nets free agency:
The prize of our free agency this past summer was Jeremy Lin. Our new coach, Kenny Atkinson, has a history with Jeremy. They were on the Knicks together. But when we were looking at what we needed to fill during the off-season, the point guard position was obviously the first initiative for us. And they felt that Jeremy would be the right player for the Brooklyn Nets. And thankfully,we were able to get him in free agency and I look forward to many great years with Jeremy wearing a Brooklyn Nets uniform.
This actually takes me back to Michael Jordan tossing compliments at Lin before the beginning of the 2015-2016 season. It caused some speculation about whether or not Lin will start for the Charlotte Hornets next to Kemba Walker, but in the end, whether it was Jordan sending orders down below, or simply Steve Clifford going with what’s familiar and easy, Lin’s minutes were hurt by the presence of Kemba Walker, and what looked like the Hornets forcing their star player into certain situations, even if from a basketball standpoint, going with Lin at the vanguard would have made more sense.
But that’s in the past, and beyond the frustrations, Lin’s seasons with the Hornets actually boosted his value, signing a three-year, $36 million contract with the Nets. He could have signed for more elsewhere, but the money-situation combination was better than anywhere else. The Nets might be praising Lin to anyone who’ll listen, but they’re going to come through with the promise of making him the guy they build around. All of their signings since and before, on the court, the front office and the bench, point to this being the team for him.