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Is Jeremy Lin the NBA’s Version of Tim Tebow?
Unless you've lived the past week underneath a rock, you know who Jeremy Lin is; if you were under that rock for two years, you've probably never heard of Tim Tebow either.
The New York Knicks sensational Asian-American point guard is exciting fans everywhere with his play and endearing himself into the hearts of many who otherwise wouldn't watch a quarter of NBA basketball, all while giving thanks to God at every opportunity.
Does this sound familiar?
Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin have a lot of similarities. Most people can identify with someone who may not be the most gifted athlete and wasn't told growing up that they were the world's gift to sports. Though Tebow is a phenomenal athlete in his own regard, his skills as a quarterback has been in question his entire professional career.
When athletes work hard, show humility, go through struggles, and give credit to an entity other than themselves, fans adore them. Tebow is known for his work ethic and his devout faith. In Lin's case, he cites his faith as carrying him through the trying times and lifting him to be the talk of the NBA.
Throw in leading a storied franchise back to prominence and beating an elite team in the process and names like "Yellow Mamba", "Linsanity", and "All I do is Lin" start to get tossed around.
But is Jeremy Lin the NBA's version of Tim Tebow? This question begs further exploration. Let's look at a few factors for comparison:
Does he love God and give credit to him at every opportunity? Yes.
Has he captivated the entire sports world with his story? Absolutely.
Was he written off by key personnel in the NBA? Without question.
Did he have college success, only to be told he couldn't make it in the pros? Yes again.
Has an entire community and his team rallied around him? Yes - Have you seen Twitter lately?
After having the opportunity to speak to Lin following the win against the Washington Wizards, I could tell that there was something special about the way he carried himself and responded to reporters. For example, one foreign reporter boldly asked following a 23-point, 10-assist performance against the Washington Wizards, "What happened in the first quarter? You played… honestly pretty bad." Lin responded with a smile, "I came out a little slow, came out a little flat…you're right".
People also appreciate humility, and it is one of the most endearing qualities an athlete can have, especially in this day in age. It is exactly why every sports news outlet is clamoring to cover the Jeremy Lin story. It is a prototypical underdog story that any Hollywood producer would love.
He played basketball at an Ivy League school not named Cornell or Princeton (Harvard) and had to fight for recognition. He went undrafted, battled for playing time and a roster spot in the D-league his rookie year, and was discarded by two teams, the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets, in less than a month this season.
Not knowing what the next day would bring, he found a comfortable spot on the couch of teammate Landry Fields. "He can have the couch", said Fields following the win against Washington.
He scored 25 points and added 7 assists in a win over the New Jersey Nets, earning him his first career NBA start. The rest is history, literally, and the real reason for all of the #Linsanity, as the Twitter world would put it. Lin now holds the Knicks franchise record for points scored in his first three starts since the NBA / ABA merger with 89.
He was written off incorrectly by all but one team, and one of the doubters was the Houston Rockets, whose general manager Daryl Morey admitted as much via Twitter:
"We should have kept (Lin). Did not know he was this good. Anyone who says they knew misleading U."
That was a remarkable thing for a general manager to say. To put it mildly, they are normally not the type of people who volunteer to admit when they are wrong.
Tim Tebow gets the edge when it comes to collegiate success as he won national championships while leading the University of Florida's elite football program. Lin set Ivy League and school records at Harvard. Both were seen as having very modest professional prospects.
The most glaring similarity has been their propensity to inspire others. Ask teammates about either player, and you will see them light up. Attend a game as I did at the Verizon Center and see how an entire community, in Lin's case, the Asian-American community, can rally around one player.
Despite evidence to the contrary, Jeremy Lin is not the NBA's Tim Tebow.
He is something even greater - There is more substance to his game at this point, while Tebow is still largely unpolished. Watching Jeremy Lin play is knowing that what you are seeing is a legitimate, NBA point guard. While special in his own right, Tebow is not the kind of prototypical quarterback teams would wait in line to sign.
Right now, there are 29 NBA teams that could utilize Jeremy Lin's services - the same could not be said for Tebow with regard to the NFL.
Finding out just where Lin and Tebow end up in the annals of their respective sports will be worth following.
For now, let the comparisons continue.
Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and follows all developments across the NBA.
Follow Michael on Twitter: @MJisyourhomeboy
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