There’s an eBay seller in Tennessee who is kicking himself today. He kicked himself yesterday and he’ll do it again tomorrow. He might do it for the rest of this NBA season. On January 3, that unfortunate soul saw his 2010-11 Jeremy Lin National Treasures autograph rookie patch card sell for $5.50. It wasn’t that surprising. Lin, an undrafted journeyman, had closed out 2011 by being waived by two different NBA teams. The fact that the card sold at all was probably a victory.
That rookie card, of which only 99 exist, is now bringing $1400-1800 on eBay. It hasn’t been confirmed but a 2010/11 National Treasures 1/1 ‘Prime Laundry Tag autograph card sold Friday night for $4,800. His cards haven’t doubled, tripled or quadrupled in price. They’re selling for as much as 100 times what they brought just two weeks ago.
Lin’s Lazarus-like rise from the league’s scrap heap is THE story of the new year in all of sports. Even in New York, which just toasted the Super Bowl champs, Lin has stolen the headlines.
Friday night at Madison Square Garden, Lin lit up the Lakers for 38 points and 7 assists, capping a wild week that saw him score more points in his first three NBA starts (89) than any player in NBA history since the merger in 1976. The fact that he’s doing it in the nation’s largest market isn’t hurting the interest in his rookie cards, which all date from last season, when he made the Golden State Warriors as an undrafted free agent out of…Harvard. Yeah, he’s the first Ivy League to play in the Association since Chris Dudley in 2003.
The NBA lockout has pushed things back so far back that there are no Jeremy Lin 2012 basketball cards to collect. The fact that he didn’t make the Knicks roster until a couple of weeks ago means there likely won’t be any for awhile either. In fact, there are just 60 different Jeremy Lin cards in existence–rare in an era of multiple sets, parallel cards, autos, relics and such. 25 of those cards carry Lin autographs.
Just two weeks ago, that same National Treasures card was still selling for less than $20. As late as Tuesday of this week, after he’d made his second start, the card was selling for $150. Friday night, one sold for $1,499. A Panini Threads auto jersey card was up for sale at $999. Lower end Lin autos were bringing $60 and up.
From January 1 to 31, just 88 Lin cards were listed and sold on eBay for an average price of $10.57. ..pretty good really when you consider that his NBA career totals looked like this: 29 games played; 2.6 points per game; 1.4 assists per game.
Since Lin’s stardom is so fresh–almost overnight really–a basketball card is probably the safest way to get his autograph. That, too, could be driving prices. There are some signed non-card pieces on eBay, but no authenticated Lin signatures exist outside of trading cards. That will change soon. Steiner Sports has signed him to a deal and autographed photos will run $120; basketballs $170, but a month ago, there really wasn’t much interest. It seemed he’d go down as just another great college player who, for whatever reason, didn’t make the NBA.
One great game might be a fluke. Two might be leftover adrenalin. Three is a trend. Lin’s success may be a year overdue, but he’s got game. He was the best high school player in California six years ago. Like another Northern Californian of note, Aaron Rodgers, Lin had no scholarship offers out of high school. He wound up taking his high IQ and heading across the country to Harvard where he became one of the best Ivy League players of all-time while majoring in economics. Still, no NBA team thought he was worthy of a draft pick.
From Palo Alto, Calif., Lin played sparingly for his hometown Warriors last year. He was cut to make room for another player December 9, the day after the lockout ended. He was claimed by Houston and cut Christmas Eve. He signed with the Knicks and was sent to the NBA D-League. An injury opened the door and Lin seems intent on shutting it for good.
As the first American of Taiwanese or Chinese descent to play in the NBA, marketers are salivating at what he could do for the league. He gained 47,000 Twitter followers in a few hours on Friday and ‘Linsanity’ was a trending topic in New York in the wee hours of Saturday. It’s a phrase that threatens to overtake ‘Tebowing’ as the catchphrase of the football/basketball sports season time frame. Like Tebow circa December 15, Jeremy Lin jerseys are white hot. The manufacturers worked overtime to get them into online stores. Soon, we’ll see them signed and being sold–probably for $300-400.
Could he still be a giant flash in the pan? Absolutely. There may be a weakness in his game that NBA coaches will figure out. However, if he can continue to prove himself as a legitimate NBA starter, Jeremy Lin 2012 basketball cards could drive the market all by themselves. We’ll just have to wait awhile to see them. In the meantime, you can check the current market by clicking here.