There may be more than one reason that the Houston Rockets signed free-agent point guard Jeremy Lin to a three-year, $25-million contract. Not only is Lin a solid player whose exciting style will bring people out to home games, but the fact that he is of Chinese ancestry will help the Rockets keep the international fans they gained because of former center Yao Ming.
Dale Robertson of the Houston Chronicle noted recently that several marketing experts have told him that the Rockets shouldn’t be worried about the large contract “thanks to Lin’s Chinese ancestry and Houston’s unique synergy with the Asian market after Yao Ming.”
The former Rockets center retired last year, but the Rockets developed a large following in China because of him, fans the Rockets now hope will turn their attention to Lin.
Kenneth Wisnefski, the founder of marketing firm WebiMax, said, “I expect his value on and off court to climb as endorsement opportunities should rise. We know the Houston area is receptive, given the success of Yao Ming. In addition, the inroads that were developed with Yao Ming in the international Asian market can carry over and impact Jeremy Lin’s brand recognition.”
Robertson noted Rockets personnel are reluctant to discuss the marketing impact of Lin, wanting people to think he was signed only for his basketball skills.
Meanwhile, in New York, you can buy Lin memorabilia for low, low prices. In most stores, $20 Lin T-shirts have been reduced to $5, while replica jerseys were discounted from $60 to $20.