There’s nothing unusual about a Harvard graduate. There are tens of thousands of them around the country.
There’s nothing unusual about an American male of Taiwanese descent.
There’s nothing unusual about an undrafted free-agent becoming a successful NBA player.
Put these all together in the center of the media universe, New York City, and you have a sensation. (Sorry, you won’t get any Lin____ puns from me.)
This is as clear a branding lesson as has ever occurred in pro sports. Jeremy Lin is getting so much attention for four reasons.
- He’s different. See above.
- He’s relevant. In pro sports that means winning. Believe me, no one would care how many points he’s scored or assists he’s dished out if the Knicks hadn’t gone on a seven-game winning streak.
- He’s authentic. This is not a manufactured, pre-packaged sports star. This is not “The Decision,” Metta World Peace, or Blake Griffin dunking a basketball after leaping over the hood of his sponsor’s car.
- He has a platform. With all due respect to Oklahoma City, Cleveland or Detroit, this wouldn’t be as big a story were it happening in any of those cities. It’s not a great story, if nobody hears it.
So if you want to be the next big thing in branding, all you have to do is be like Jeremy.