Jeremy Lin Update: NBA Social Media Awards and Early Bird Rights

Published by Daniel A. Grafstein on June 23, 2012 at 3:12AM

Following his historic sophomore season, Jeremy Lin '10 was named the Social Breakout Player of the Year in Wednesday's first-ever NBA Social Media Awards.

It’s official: Jeremy Lin ’10 is a fan favorite. The emerging star received praise both on and off the court in the first-ever NBA Social Media Awards, which aired this past Wednesday on NBA TV and TNT. Lin played a role in three of the night’s 13 honors, tying him with Kobe Bryant for the most decorated social engager.

Prior to the one-hour show, Lin was honored as the “Social Breakout Player of the Year” thanks to enormous increases in his Twitter and Facebook following. By the time of the announcement, the point guard’s following had increased 34-fold on Twitter since the New York Knicks claimed him off waivers in December of last year.

After a career-changing 25-point performance against the New Jersey Nets on February 4, Lin scored over 20 points and dished eight or more assists in his next two contests, and a surge in popularity was well on its way. But skeptics were still able to point a lack of quality opponents during the streak.

On February 12, against a well-tested NBA force, Lin provided the needed exclamation point on his first week as a bona fide star. In a nationally televised game against the perennial-powerhouse Los Angeles Lakers, the sophomore scored 38 points—eight more than he ever had in his playing days with the Crimson. The game proved to be the year’s fan favorite, as it collected the EPIC Award with the subtitle, “Linsanity Begins.”

Teammate Landry Fields got in on the action by posting a picture of the couch Lin famously inhabited before he could find a permanent residence in the Big Apple. His snapshot—accompanied by the caption “Ladies and gentlemen, the one and only couch made famous by @JLin7! Let the bidding begin”—made Fields the winner of “The Snap Shot Award.”

In other NBA news, a ruling made by arbitrator Kenneth Dam on Friday gave both Lin and teammate Steve Novak early Bird rights, meaning that New York go could over its salary cap to re-sign both players without having to use its mid-level exception. That would allow the team to use its mid-level—worth around $5 million—to sign an outside free agent.

The NBA has announced its intention to appeal the ruling, but it is unlikely to be resolved by July 1, which marks the beginning of free agency.