A $556 ticket to see the New Orleans Hornets? $498 to see the New Jersey Nets?
Perhaps that’s the truest definition of “Linsanity.”
The meteoric rise of the New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin has made him a household name and sent Knicks ticket prices soaring, no matter who the team is playing.
In the phenomenon known as Linsanity, NBA lesser lights such as the Sacramento Kings, the Hornets, and the Nets visiting Madison Square Garden fetched average ticket prices on the secondary market in the $500 range. Higher-profile opponents such as the Dallas Mavericks this past Sunday and Wednesday vs. the Atlanta Hawks drew even higher prices.
The Knicks already had the NBA’s highest average face value ticket price ($117.47) well before Lin went from sleeping on his brother’s couch to sitting atop the sports universe. Secondary market sales were as disappointing as the team’s performance early in the NBA’s lockout-shortened season.
Not anymore. According to ticket search site TiqIQ.com, the Knicks average ticket price jumped 33 percent (from $229 to $304) on the resale market in the week since Lin, the undrafted former NBA castoff from Harvard, became a Knicks starter and turned their season around.
TiqIQ’s stats show in a 10-day period, from February 7 to 17, average ticket prices for a game at MSG against the Hornets jumped 207% ($181.12 to $556.82), the Mavs 185 percent ($269.41 to $769.28), the Nets 179 percent ($178.42 to $498.30) and the Hawks 212 percent ($186.30 to $581.84).
StubHub.com spokeswoman Joellen Ferrer said that before Lin’s emergence, Knicks sales made up about 17 percent of the site’s NBA purchases. As of late last week, that figure was up to 52 percent.
Another search site, SeatGeek.com, said 7 of its top 10 landing pages last week were for Knicks tickets.
“It’s unbelievable,” New York ticket broker Jason Berger, president of AllShows.com, told TicketNews. “I haven’t seen anything like it since the Knicks were playing the Bulls to reach the NBA Finals,” referring to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls’ heyday in the ’90s. “Our average Knicks ticket used to be about $150, now it’s up to $300.”
On Feb. 3, the Knicks were 8-15 and coach Mike D’Antoni’s job was in jeopardy. With Carmelo Anthony out for two weeks with a groin injury, Amar’e Stoudemire missing games after the death of his brother, and with the largely ineffective play from his other point guards, D’Antoni turned to Lin, 23, who had been cut by two other NBA teams after a solid college career at Harvard.
Lin was picked up by the Knicks in December and was staying with his brother, an NYU student, while just hoping to have his contract guaranteed for the rest of the season.
That’s when the first American-born NBA player of Chinese or Taiwanese decent — Lin’s parents came to California from Taiwan in the ’70s — began setting records and shattering stereotypes.
With Lin averaging 25 points and 9.2 assists a game, the Knicks have run off eight victories in nine games. Lin added to his legend with 28 points and a career-high of 14 assists Sunday in a 104-97 victory over the defending NBA champion Mavs.
That performance followed other Lin heroics, including a last-second three-pointer that gave the Knicks a road victory over the Toronto Raptors on February 14 and a 38-point effort in victory over the Los Angeles Lakers Feb. 10 at MSG. No other player in NBA history has averaged more than 20 points and seven assists in his first four starts.
Lin’s 200 points and 76 assists in his first eight starts are more than Hall of Fame point guards Isiah Thomas and Magic Johnson totaled in their first eight.
The impact has been felt beyond ticket sales. Stores can’t keep Lin’s No. 17 Knicks jersey and Linsanity t-shirts on the shelves. Last Friday, just hours before the Knicks hosted the Hornets, MSG and Time Warner Cable ended their dispute that had kept the MSG Network, which broadcasts Knicks games, unavailable for more than 2 million Time Warner subscribers in the New York area.
On the stock market, shares of MSG Inc., which owns the Knicks and the NHL’s New York Rangers, traded at a record-high $33.18 on February 13 and were up 10 percent since February 3.
According to CNN, two Taiwanese travel agencies are offering trips to New York that include Knicks tickets. Knicks games are now appointment television in Taiwan.
TiqIQ spokesman Chris Matcovich said Lin caused a bigger jump in resale ticket prices (33 percent vs. 25 percent) than Anthony did last year when he arrived in a mid-season trade from the Denver Nuggets.
A month that began on the couch and the bench will end with Lin as a cultural icon and NBA observers wondering how the high-scoring Anthony, a superstar making $18 million a year, will adjust his game when he returns to fit with Lin, whose $788,000 salary was only recently guaranteed.