You’re not Jeremy Lin, you say? Ok let me back up a step. By now you’re probably aware of the spectacular rise of Harvard grad and NY Knicks’ new point guard, Jeremy Lin. Before he was passed from team to team in the NBA, he was passed over by Division I colleges for athletic scholarships. Then, when he got his opportunity with the Knicks, he made some recruiters feel pretty sorry. Essentially, Lin’s story is the American dream come true. That’s why you are Jeremy Lin. You, as a consumer, empathize.

Lin’s success tugs on the heartstrings of many demographic groups. There’s the highly educated contingent because of his Harvard education, Asian-American fans and players who don’t have an idol to look up to in the NBA, regular Americans who love a good underdog stickin-it-to-the-man story and Knicks fans who just wanted some wins (and just happen to live in a giant metropolis). And those Knicks fans have seen the Knicks brand limp along through some …er… let’s say “character concerns.” From former Head Coach Isiah Thomas’s legal issues and .456 win percentage to secret pre-draft workouts and Carmelo Anthony’s failure to deliver thus far, the Knicks brand lacked excitement and hope.

When you think about it, it’s an ideal scenario for the Knicks, the NBA and anyone whose income is dependent upon ups and downs of NBA viewership and game attendance. Is there a lesson here, though? Or, did the Knicks get really lucky by choosing a guy they probably thought was talented over another guy they probably thought was less talented?

I think there is a lesson: Brands and businesses can be made or broken by the degree to which consumers can empathize with what they buy. Whether or not that happens as a result of strategic decisions or blind luck can probably be influenced by those businesses or brands making those strategic decisions. Other NBA teams, take note: I have been practicing my free throws and can make almost 50% of them. You sure you don’t want to take a second look?

As a die-hard Giants fan, I was overjoyed on January 22nd, 2011 when the Giants beat the 49ers and it was confirmed that the 9-7 Giants would be playing in Super Bowl XLVI. The team’s hard work, predominantly towards the end of the season, had paid off and their efforts, once again, landed them in the championships. This year’s game was the much anticipated rematch of the 2008 Super Bowl between the New York Giants vs. New England Patriots; Tom Brady was coming back for revenge.

All season long I had been joking with my Dad that if the Giants make it to Indy, we would have to go. Luckily, he made good on his promise and off to Indy we went. Eli would play in the “House His Brother (Peyton Manning) Built,” and as a direct result almost everyone in Indy was rooting for the Giants. Walking around Super Bowl Village everyone was wearing Giants fan gear. You felt it the air that this was the Giant’s game for the taking … and take it they did!

Super Bowl Sunday really seemed to go off without a hitch in Indianapolis. The weather was perfect for February, 50 degrees and sunny. The host city’s planning was well-executed. Most importantly, the spirit of the city captivated visitors. New York certainly has a lot to live up to in 2014, when they have the chance to host Super Bowl XLVIII at Met Life Stadium.

I was particularly impressed with every single event staff person I interacted with in Indy. With the amount of typical fast-paced New Yorkers and New Englanders that made it out to the game, never once did the staffers seem stressed, overwhelmed or annoyed; a welcome change from my past experience most event staffers, especially in New York. Not only did they end every conversation with (and not sarcastically) “Have a Super Day,” but they all were so grateful and excited for the Super Bowl to be at Lucas Oil Stadium. It was their job to ensure that your stay and experience at Super Bowl XLVI was a positive one.

As a Giants fan, in a different city/state I felt very welcomed in Indy. At one point I even telling a member of the event staff how nervous I was for the game to begin. Rather than dismissing or ignoring me, as I would expect, she responded, with a huge smile on her face, “Don’t be, you have all Colt’s fans behind you and we are super excited for Eli to kick Tom’s butt…Let’s Go Giants!”

The Super Bowl staff in Indianapolis really was not your typical event staff; they truly made the day’s events successful.  All day Sunday, you really felt that there were an army of people happily gave their time and effort to help stage this week’s events, and to make sure things went well. The Hoosiers really demonstrated that although in a smaller city, they really could play in the “Big Leagues.”