Jeremy Lin Helps Usher Lakers into Life of More Modest NBA Reality

If you're unlikely to win the NBA championship, there have to be other ways to remain relevant.   

The Los Angeles Lakers embraced one of them Friday with their trade for Jeremy Lin, whose arrival meshes well with the Lakers' massive global brand.

Lin first captivated that worldwide audience two years ago with an underdog run of success for the New York Knicks as the NBA's first American of Taiwanese or Chinese descent.

Last season, the Houston Rockets had additional international media on hand every day not because Dwight Howard joined the team but because of Lin. Even though Lin averaged just 12.5 points and 4.1 assists and split time with superior point guard defender Patrick Beverley, there is a star quality in a different sense to Lin.

And make no mistake, the Lakers are in pursuit of star power. That's why they decided to go all out in pursuit of free agent Carmelo Anthony and offer him a max contract even though they had reservations about how much of a winner he is. He has already proved to be a rare one-name-only marquee persona.

At a time when the Clippers have built a championship contender for the city and are transitioning to respectable ownership, the Lakers' move for Lin is an attempt to ensure the purple and gold colors retain their sense of royalty.

Having Lin—a hugely popular person and pitchman in China, the world's most populous country with 1.36 billion people, compared to the United States' 315 million—fits from a business perspective much like it did to overpay to sign Kobe Bryant to his contract extension.

And same as with Bryant, it's not solely a business transaction.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak has been intrigued by Lin for a long time—to the point that Lin's family was led to believe the Lakers would draft the former Harvard standout with the 58th overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft. (The Lakers instead ...

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