Harvard graduate Jeremy Lin calculates interest rates in his head (Nathaniel S. Butler/ Getty).
The buzz around Jeremy Lin has diminished considerably over the past month, but he's still a fan favorite with a personal story that brings in lots of interest. While Lin will likely miss the rest of the season with a knee injury, his presence has brought the New York Knicks a lot of money this season. With his season over, and free agency looming this summer, it's possible that the Knicks will part ways with their cash cow.
Perhaps sensing the end, the Knicks might have held back the news of Lin's injury in order to make money from playoff ticket sales. According to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, the timing of the announcement came after an important deadline for buying playoff tickets (via PBT):
The Knicks were eventually going to get around to revealing the troubling results of Jeremy Lin's MRI but certainly not before last Wednesday.
That was a crucial day inside the club's executive offices at Two Penn Plaza because March 28 represented the deadline for season- ticket holders to purchase all four rounds of the playoffs.
In fact, in the email sent to subscribers, there is a picture of Lin leaping in celebration. Yet, it was two days before the deadline when Lin and the Knicks' medical staff learned that the second-year point guard/cash cow was suffering from a torn meniscus in his left knee and that he wouldn't be jumping for joy anytime soon.
Although Lin waited until Saturday before formally making the decision to have surgery, it certainly made business sense for the organization to withhold medical information about its marquee attraction. But that doesn't explain why the Knicks, who are 2½ games ahead of Milwaukee for the eighth and final playoff spot with 13 games left, weren't forthcoming about Lin's condition after Wednesday's postseason ticket deadline passed.
Fans are refunded playoff ticket costs in the event that teams don't make the playoffs, but the Knicks would still stand to earn considerable interest before having to give back the money. While that might seem like a dastardly way to make a few extra bucks off fans, it's also well within standard operating procedure for NBA teams.
Isola has more, including that the Knicks contradicted a statement from interim coach Mike Woodson regarding Lin's availability. There have also been reports that the delay had been caused by Lin seeking a second opinion, which would be a less conspiratorial explanation for the issues.
However, this behavior would be fairly bizarre on the part of the Knicks, because it presumes that their fans — a tough group, but certainly one that buys tickets regardless of record — would only buy playoff tickets if Lin was playing. Prices don't change depending on which players are active for particular games, and the excitement of playoff basketball isn't tied to the spectacle as much as the fact that those games are really, really important. Fans might hold back from buying tickets if they thought the Knicks didn't have a chance of making the postseason, and Lin's absence will hurt those odds. Then again, fans are rarely governed by reason, and bank accounts are yielding much interest these days anyway. If the playoffs are a possibility, and the money gets refunded, why wouldn't fans reserve their seats regardless of who's hurt?
That's not to say that Isola's report is wrong — the Knicks front office has certainly done crazier stuff. All it means is that this whole minor scandal never had to exist in the first place. Lin drives a lot of interest, but Knicks fans were around long before February. If anyone has reason to care about this elaborate plan, it's the scalpers and re-sellers who stood to make lots more money off Lin's first playoff appearance. Pity them, if you must.
- Jeremy Lin