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Back in February, during the height of New York Knick guard Jeremy Lin's insane run from the D-League call-up to Eastern Conference Player of the Week and two-time Sports Illustrated cover boy, some Twitter know-all and or copy desk wonk decided to put the words "Lin" and "insanity" together to create the idea of "Linsanity," an apt way to describe just how ridiculous his ascension was. Soon after — as in, really soon after — young California businessman Yenchin Chang attempted to trademark "Linsanity" for his own personal gain, all while claiming that he just "wanted to be a part of the excitement." To which our own Eric Freeman replied, "Ah, right, because who hasn't wilded out by getting involved in the bureaucratic hell of the U.S. trademark process?"
It appears as if Chang's 3 1/2-month roller coaster ride of fun and wall-to-wall Linsanity has come to an end. Newsday's Al Iannazzone has the news, of the day:
"Linsanity" belongs to Jeremy Lin. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has registered the term for Lin, who in February moved to take control of the catchphrase that encapsulated his meteoric rise from undrafted player to starter.
Lin's filing Feb. 13 came six days after a California man with no ties to the Knicks guard became the first to apply for a Linsanity trademark.
As Eric relayed last February, Chung was one of two to attempt to trademark the term in the first week of February, fascinating considering the fact that on Feb. 7 (the day of Chung's first attempt to secure the "rights" to the "word") Lin was just two games into his meteoric rise, having demolished the New Jersey Nets and Utah Jazz on Feb. 4 and 6, after having previously played just under 55 total minutes in his team's previous 24 games to that point.
There is something to be said for Chung's quick trigger finger. And there's also something to be said for the unscrupulous way he attempted to claim rights to a descriptive phrase he didn't create, which was associated with a player he had no relationship with.
More important than any of this is Lin's future with New York; because there's a good chance Jeremy Lin will never again go from the D-League to averaging nearly 21 points, 8.4 assists and four rebounds a game in a month's term, thus negating the "insanity" surrounding Jeremy Lin's play, thus eliminating "Linsanity."
Because the Knicks signed Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire to contracts before the new NBA collective bargaining agreement hit, the Knicks are on the books for $54 million next year for just those two plus Tyson Chandler. It remains a famous, if not formidable, frontline; but the team's roster is already over the cap (assuming J.R. Smith opts out of his rather slim player option) for next season with just six active players under contract (Renaldo Balkman will not be around). This means the team is going to have to rely on the exceptions the NBA doles out to teams over the salary cap in order to round out its roster, and you only get a pair of those before having to rely on minimum salaried players to add to a rotation that badly needs an upgrade.
This is why the NBA's Player Association has set up a meeting with the league and an arbitrator on June 13 to decide if Lin, fellow Knick Steve Novak, Clipper guard Chauncey Billups and Trail Blazers forward J.J. Hickson are eligible for "Bird Rights" with their incumbent teams. Because each of those players was waived before joining their 2011-12 team, the union argues that they signed as free agents and should be allowed the sorts of payroll perks that free agents get to enjoy; with teams allowed to re-sign players even while their salary figure is over the cap line.
If the arbitrator decides for the NBA, which is probably the stronger probability (the union should have anticipated this last fall during CBA negotiations, considering that the amnesty clause was going to result in several waived players being coveted by new teams, and entered this provision into the discussions), the Knicks would have to use their cap exceptions to re-sign Lin and possibly Novak. Which would completely hamstring their attempts to build up that team's thin bench.
Otherwise, a ruling in the union's favor would result in the Knicks signing Lin and Novak then signing players with exceptions and then signing players to minimum salary deals.
If Lin has to take up that exception? Then there's a good chance the Knicks' depth will be even thinner in 2012-13, with Baron Davis possibly retiring after a major knee injury, and J.R. Smith likely moving on. Along with Novak, who would be able to find a better deal from other teams than the $1.9 million exception the Knicks would have to offer him under the current rules.
It is, quite literally, none of our business — not unlike Yenchin Chang's attempts to trademark "Linsanity." But if profitable outfits in New York and Los Angeles, along with the billionaire-owned Portland Trail Blazers, want to go over the top to spend the cash to improve their teams, and add to the NBA's revenue sharing pie? Why not let them? Because, to New York and the Clippers' credit, they weren't crying poverty during last year's lockout negotiations, preferring to get back onto the court where they could make more money. Why hamstring them on a technicality, just to be technical with things?
The NBA might want to ask the arbitrator to stand tough, because it would look bad to some if the league awarded what appeared to be a special exemption to avoid an exception for one of the league's more popular players in the league's biggest market. The arbitrator's ruling won't top New York from retaining Lin, though. It would only prevent them from adding more players in order to aid Jeremy in cashing in on his significant potential.
In the interim, it's nice to see the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office prevent Yenchin Chang's attempts to cash in on Jeremy Lin's name.