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Ball Don't Lie

Jeremy Lin had no effect on MSG stock, now at an all-time high

Eric Freeman
Ball Don't Lie

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Hillary Clinton asks Jeremy Lin how tall he is (Kevin Mazur/ WireImage).

When the New York Knicks parted ways with Jeremy LIn in July, many critics of the decision focused not just on Lin's potential on-court impact, but what he could mean financially for the franchise and its parent company MSG. They had some evidence for the case, too. Just a few days after Lin agreed to terms with the Houston Rockets, MSG stock fell 8.5 percent in only two weeks. After a 31 percent jump following Linsanity, that dip seemed telling.

It turns out that we were mostly wrong, because on Monday MSG stock hit an all-time high. From Barry Petchesky at Deadspin:

Shares of $MSG closed the day at 39.39, for a market cap of $2.98 billion. That's an all-time high for the stock, squeaking past the previous high at the beginning of NBA free agency, and blowing past the numbers at the height of Linsanity. This means nothing, but so does everything that came before it. [...]

MSG is a strong company, with or without Jeremy Lin, and we're seeing that re-correction. From a three-month low of 34.73 on July 23, shares have climbed steadily, gaining 13.4 percent in just 28 days. Which isn't to say the Knicks aren't a better or more marketable team with Lin than without him, only that his departure wasn't the death blow it was made out to be, and that MSG Inc. is healthier than ever, even Lin-free.

Today's big MSG news, that boosted the price from the opening bell: the New York Liberty's licensing deal with NBA Baller Beats, a sort of dribbling Dance Dance Revolution for Xbox 360. The point being, MSG's house contains many mansions. Madison Square Garden Inc. owns four professional sports teams, a number of TV networks (not all sports), and stadiums and venues around the country, including the Chicago Theater and Los Angeles Forum. Jim Dolan's fortune is not tied to the Knicks' starting point guard.

And that's a good thing for him, because Raymond Felton and/or Jason Kidd probably don't have many good years left. Zing!

It bears noting that, at the time, one writer did accurately analyze the relationship between Lin and MSG stock. At Grantland (also via Deadspin), Jonah Keri noted that, while Lin might have had some effect on the stock price, MSG's long-term viability depended a host of other factors. For that matter, the market's major influencers didn't budge much when the Lin news broke.

The concept to understand here isn't that Lin had no effect on MSG, but that he was not going to have a long-term influence on the stock price. Whatever claims we made about his cash-cow status may have been overblown. At the very least, the adverse effects of Lin's departure appear to have been temporary.

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