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Lin magic drives MSG, Time Warner to cut a deal

Michael Li and Henry Chow show off Jeremy Lin T-shirts they bought on Main Street, since the superstar's jerseys were impossible to come by. Li and Chow will be heading to watch the Knicks in person next week.
TimesLedger Newspapers

Time Warner Cable and Madison Square Garden have reached an agreement that will allow Queens residents to finally catch a glimpse of overnight New York Knicks superstar Jeremy Lin play from the comfort of their living rooms.

Alex Dudley, spokesman for the cable company, confirmed with TimesLedger Newspapers the agreement was made in time to allow Friday night’s Knicks game to air.

The entire city has been abuzz with “Lin-sanity” ever since the point guard from Harvard hit the court and led the Knicks to a seven-game winning streak, and the excitement has been especially pronounced in Flushing.

Lin, who was born in Los Angeles, is the only American of Asian descent playing in the NBA, although other stars like Yao Ming from China have grabbed headlines in the past.

Lin has become a star to many young Asian-Americans in Flushing, according to 19-year-old Nena Kunnatee, who was in the Modell’s Sporting Goods store on Main Street Friday purchasing some Lin gear.

“For Flushing, it’s a dream come true,” she said in the midst of buying several T-shirts with Lin’s No. 17 on them. “He is a great addition, and he has done a lot of good stuff.”

Lin’s role in the face-off between Time Warner and MSG was undeniable to City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), who said that the frenzy surrounding the rookie player created a sense of urgency for the negotiations to wrap up.

The impasse between the two companies had drawn the attention of lawmakers like Vallone, who normally do not get involved in business decisions. Their contact expired Dec. 31.

“Normally I am a big fan of the free market and I would agree that we should allow that to handle these disputes because people have choices,” he said.

But Vallone said other cable providers were not available everywhere, especially on short notice. Since consumers’ choices were limited, elected officials had to step in, Vallone said.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) went so far as to send letters to the two sides warning them they would face a public hearing.

After the deal was struck, Quinn released a statement commending the two sides on finally hammering out a solution.

“I want to thank the MSG-Network and Time Warner Cable for coming to a deal that will put the Knicks and the Rangers back on TV,” she said in a statement. “Now a million more New Yorkers will be able to go Linsane in the privacy of their own living room.”

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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