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There’s a lot of money to be made off Jeremy Lin

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The NBA is a business. First and foremost. If you ever forget that, think back to early November when we should have had the start of the NBA season and instead had lawyers in suits hammering out a labor agreement.

Jeremy Lin is the kind of player, the kind of story that can make you forget the NBA is all business.

But this is all tied to money, too.

The Madison Square Garden Company is making money, as reported by the New York Times.

On Monday, shares of Madison Square Garden Company, which owns the Knicks, the arena where they play and the cable network that broadcasts their games, hit a record high because of the sudden emergence of Jeremy Lin, the team’s previously unknown point guard.

Shares of MSG rose 3.8 percent Monday to a record-high $32.32, with three times the average number of shares being traded.

Jeremy Lin jerseys are suddenly a hot item, and more simply Knicks fans buy MSG stock when the team is good. Also, Madison Square Garden is also locked in a fee dispute with Time Warner Cable that has Time Warner not carrying MSG Network — and Knicks games — in large parts of New York City right now. Lin and his popularity give MSG leverage because ratings are up 66 percent in recent games.

Forbes broke down the Lin impact this way — and notes his personal brand is now worth a lot.

The Knicks had $226 million of revenue during the 2010-11 season, roughly equating to 20% of MSG’s overall revenue. Obviously, you cannot assign Lin one-fifth ($28 million) of MSG’s $139 million increase in market value since he began his magical run (in the past we have determined athlete brand values are the amount by which their endorsement income exceeds the average of the top peers in their sport, but that methodology can’t be applied to Lin, who was a no-name player until very recently).

But we can still get a reasonable estimate. The New York Times reports that Lin has helped push up television ratings for the Knicks 66% over last season. So if we give Lin credit for half of the $28 million, his brand weighs in at $14 million, which would place him tied with Bryant for sixth among the top athlete brands in the world.

But it’s more than the suits — Lin can make money, too. The American of Taiwanese descent can make more money off the court than on it, particularly in China where state-run television are showing his games already. Reuters looked into that.

“There’s no question brands will be interested in Jeremy Lin,” Jeremy Walker, head of sports marketing and branded entertainment for GolinHarris, told Reuters by telephone from Hong Kong on Monday.

“You only have to look at what Yao Ming has done not just for the NBA but for brands that he represents both in the States and in China. Every top Chinese star that comes out from the Olympic Games or wherever it might be, there’s always going to be an awful lot of interest for brands because all the major brands in the world are still looking to China for growth.

“A lot of brands want that positive ‘halo effect’ association they are going to get from being involved with a superstar.”

Yao made a lot of money endorsing Pepsi, Reebok shoes and more in China. You can bet at Harvard they taught Lin something about brand marketing and how to make money. He’s going to get an NBA raise next season, but soon that may be the smaller share of his income.

LeBron James says he doesn’t see Cavaliers-Warriors as rivalry

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 25: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers passes while under pressure from Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors during the first half at Quicken Loans Arena on December 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Tyronn Lue said Cavaliers-Warriors could eventually match Celtics-Lakers as a rivalry.

First, if you ask LeBron James, Cleveland-Golden State would have to become a rivalry at all.

LeBron, via Joe Vardon Cleveland.com:

“We don’t look at it as a rival,” James said. “They’re a great team. They’ve been the best team the last couple years, last three years.”

“It’s just the next game, it’s Golden State,” James said. “They’re a helluva team, like I said the best team in the league and they’ve been that way the last three years, four years, however long it’s been, I’m not quite sure. But, listen, you guys know, we don’t put all our eggs in one basket for one game.”

Of course, Cavaliers-Warriors is a rivalry. These teams have met in the last two NBA Finals, played each other with relentless intensity, talked plenty of trash and remained elite.

LeBron just doesn’t want the Cavs to become comfortable. They’ve beat Golden State in four straight games – the last three of the 2016 Finals and on Christmas – and could extend the streak to five today. Beating a rival that frequently is a cause for celebration, and celebration leads to contentment. LeBron would rather keep Cleveland focused and hungry. Hence, saying the Warriors aren’t a rival.

Andre Drummond hits 3-pointer from inside Pistons’ own 3-point arc (video)

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Andre Drummond is really good at these deep heaves.

His 3-point percentage (44%) is even better than his free-throw percentage (38%) the last two years, though that says too much about his work from the line.

Drummond wasn’t the only Pistons player converting to end quarters. Ish Smith and Tobias Harris also stepped up in the Pistons’ 102-97 win over the Lakers:

NBA: Suns got away with offensive foul before key points in win over Spurs

Phoenix Suns Devin Booker acknowledges a foul as San Antonio Spurs Tony Parker lies crumpled on the floor, in the second half of their regular-season NBA basketball game in Mexico City, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell
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Devin Booker scored 39 points in the Suns’ 108-105 win over the Spurs on Saturday in Mexico City.

But Booker’s last four – which put Phoenix up for good – came directly after incorrect calls, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report.

First, Booker drew a (legitimate) foul on Pau Gasol with 1:08 left and made both free throws. The problem: One second before that, Suns center Tyson Chandler should have been called for offensively fouling Tony Parker, according to the league:

Chandler (PHX) sets the screen on Parker (SAS) and makes leg to leg contact that affects his ability to defend the play.

That would’ve ended Phoenix’s possession rather than allowing Booker to get to the line.

The other missed call in the two-minute report is trickier, because it directly benefitted the Spurs but indirectly benefitted the Suns.

Manu Ginobili got away with travelling with 59.1 seconds left, according to  the league:

Ginobili (SAS) moves his pivot foot.

But he coughed up the ball moments later anyway, and – thrilled to gain possession with a live-ball turnover rather than a dead-ball turnover – Booker turned the miscue into a fastbreak dunk.

Rather than debate how to evaluate San Antonio getting away with a travel and it ultimately helping Phoenix more, let’s stick to just the uncalled Chandler offensive foul. That netted the Suns two points. Their lead when the Spurs began intentionally fouling? One.

Russell Westbrook puts up 20th triple-double of season, lifts Thunder past Kings (VIDEO)

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Through 41 games — half the season — Russell Westbrook is averaging 30.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.5 assists a game. Those numbers are insane, particularly considering his 42 percent usage rate. He has to put up numbers and do so fairly efficiently or the Thunder stand no chance of winning — and he has the Thunder on pace for 48 wins this season.

The Thunder picked up another of those wins Sunday night knocking off the Sacramento Kings behind Westbrook’s 20th triple-double in 41 games — 36 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. The video highlights are above.

It’s going to be fun watching him and James Harden go back-and-forth in the MVP race for the next few months.