When Jeremy Lin left the New York Knicks for the Houston Rockets a few weeks ago, the team's fans got very upset. Some even went so far as to reconsider their allegiances, ending decades of fandom over an especially awful decade. Somehow, the Knicks experience has been embarrassing enough lately that such a decision didn't seem quite so ridiculous.
However, one of the most notable upset Knicks fans can't claim a decade of rooting on the team. Around the time Lin switched teams, the YouTube user "hmpeopleinmyhead" posted a clip of his five-year-old son Naim crying and wondering how the Knicks possibly could have let his favorite player leave. The video has been viewed more than 30,000 times and became something of a viral sensation.
When Lin heard about the video, he took action and scheduled a video conversation on Mac's FaceTime application with Naim. You can watch nine minutes of the session at the top of this post (via IamaGM.com). The first question is about spending time with Toney Douglas and Josh Harrelson in Houston, which seems like one of the most random NBA hangout trios possible.
This is a pretty cool gesture by Lin, and the sort of thing that makes the Knicks look even worse to the general public for letting him walk in restricted free agency. He's popular, approachable, and understands how to handle himself in public. While there are still acceptable basketball reasons for wondering if Lin can play up to his initial "Linsanity" level, there are also indications that he can. For a franchise with an increasingly poor reputation in the press, the Knicks lost a lot when they cut ties with Lin.
That's not to say that Lin only spent time talking to Naim and his father out of the kindness of his heart. Lin knows that this move was good PR, the sort of outreach that creates new fans in addition to making two fans for life. The fact that it came from a good place doesn't change that it's also a business decision. That's fine, of course — it's just some additional context for this conversation. My guess is that Lin will not make a habit of this, because a single conversation does all the PR work he needs.
Now we must wonder if other players will follow suit. For the record, Monta Ellis never contacted me when I cried after his trade to Milwaukee.