Usually the New York athlete story ends ugly. Successful star comes to Gotham and ends his career in tatters, or leaves to find glory elsewhere. Rarely do you find someone like the New York Rangers Mark Messier, who came to Gotham to fulfill the dream of fans that had been harbored for over 50 years, and find the way to win and leave with his dignity and reputation still in tact.
This year however we had a rare incident…an athlete who captured the brighest lights of the media and then…left after opportunities to stay…times two. Jeremy Lin and RA Dickey in 2012 were the rarest of rare. They came from nowhere almost and ascended to the highest of athletic heights on the biggest of stages, only to leave before their branding cash in was complete, Lin to Houston and now Dickey to another country, Toronto. Unfulfilled potential? Nah. For both these athletes even outside of New York, the best is probably still to come.
How could that possibly be? After all they seemed to have shunned New York to try and continue their success away from the watchful eye of Madison Avenue. Well Dickey and Lin are a rare breed. They found success, sudden success for the most part and proved they could compete in front of the eat em alive fans and media of New York and they both did it with an air of dignity and humility. They absorbed early success and continued to do well without losing their heads or sacrificing their image. They also had a unique pedigree which gave them great potential away from New York…Dickey as a journeyman turned author before his breakthrough year, a man who had tremendous respect from his peers before getting the huge 20 win Cy Young season in 2012, Lin a Harvard educated, multicultural success away from the court before he took the stage with the New York Knicks and emerged last winter. They came from almost off the radar to capture the hearts and minds of both the fan and the business community, and that success played out not just locally, but nationally.
So now thy move on, Lin drawing continued interest from global brands as he evolves his game in Houston, alongside star James Harden and in front of the fastest-growing Asian community in the United States, Dickey now north of the border in a multicultural, cosmopolitan city that is bereft of its beloved NHL and is searching for winning baseball. Neither city is second tier when it comes to business opportunities locally either, and the stories of both should continue to bode well for financial success off the field.
More importantly, both left New York and its bright lights as feel-good heroes, ones who could return for a visit through an ad campaign or social media or even community efforts. They gave even the casual fan nothing but the best, and that best should continue to resonate into the future. It sure is an anomaly to have such an athlete arrive and eave New York once in a decade. To have it happen twice in a year, and to have those athletes not skip a beat from a business perspective is even rarer still. Lots of lessons to be learned from these two rare finds, both of whom left New York on top, and will continue to rise in markets that are more than happy to have them.