In November, Tim Tebow prayed for a basketball version of himself (Garrett Elwood/Getty).
In less than a week, Jeremy Lin has become the biggest story in the NBA with his stellar play for the Knicks. Many thought he couldn't succeed at the professional level, and yet he's proven everyone wrong with his strong grasp of the pick-and-roll and general devil-may-care attitude in Mike D'Antoni's offense. It's a good fit, and while it might not last forever, it's at least a lot of fun for now.
It's a situation with some parallels to that of America's celibate sweetheart Tim Tebow, Broncos quarterback and media subject of interest. So, not surprisingly, Lin is getting questions about Tebow in interviews. Here's what he had to say to 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, just a short drive from his hometown of Palo Alto (via Sports Radio Interviews and PBT):
On Tim Tebow being an inspiration for him:
"Actually a lot of inspiration just because he's such a polarizing figure but I think the things he says in interviews, his approach to the game is just unbelievable and I respect him so much. I want to be able to do some of the things that he does in terms of the amount of charity work and the non-profit work, and the way he impacts people off the field. I think that is what is most inspiring to me about him."
It's important to note that Lin's approach to this comparison is far different from the general "surprising sports story" connection. As a devout Christian, Lin, like Tebow, reads all the events of his life as guided and decided by God, to the point where his New Year's resolution was just to love God more on Dec. 31 than he did on Jan. 1. Lin's description of Tebow as a pillar of the community is notable — what he does with the platform is as important as what he does on the field. Tebow serves as inspiration for Lin because he's communicating the glory of Christ on a national stage.
On their respective playing fields, the Lin-Tebow comparison is facile: one wasn't drafted and received no scholarship offers as a recruit, while the other was a first-round pick, won the Heisman, and was a consensus top prospect in high school. And yet there is a clear connection between the two, because they both see their role in the public in similar ways. Neither is just an athlete. Their responsibilities go much deeper than winning games.
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