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.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.