Jeremy Lin! Why the Knicks' New Star Is Not the New Tebow

Jeremy Lin and Tim Tebow! Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin! Every sports columnist with opposable thumbs (about three in ten) has compared the New York Knicks point guard and the Denver Broncos quarterback, seeing one as a doppelganger of the other. Bill Simmons, perhaps the most read sportswriter in America, used the rapier wit that made him famous and summed up the general consensus by tweeting, “My Tebowner has been replaced by a Jerection!”

It’s not just sports columnists. Politico, our national source for

electoral cliff notes, and the Huffington Post, America’s go-to site for finding out what Fabio thinks about education reform, both posted “Lin is the new Tebow” links.

It’s understandable why the comparison is made. Both players revived depressed franchises just by getting in the game. Both play with a joy that seems to infect their teammates and raise everyone’s level of play. Both had their doubters, no question. And both are devoutChristians who aren’t shy about thanking God in post-game interviews. 

It’s an easy comparison. It’s also dead wrong. The conflation of their stories does little more than burnish Tebow’s credentials at Lin’s expense.

Let’s really look at both players. Tim Tebow was a first-round draft pick who won a Heisman trophy and two national championships at football powerhouse Florida. Jeremy Lin was an undrafted player out of Harvard, cut by two other teams and riding the Knicks bench before his unprecedented emergence. Tim Tebow had his own army of supporters chanting his name and exhorting the front office to get him on the field. Jeremy Lin played because the Knicks had no other options. Tim Tebow based on pure statistics just isn’t very good yet. He completed 46 percent of his passes and ranked twenty-seventh among NFL quarterbacks in passing efficiency. Jeremy Lin in his first five starts just set a record for most points in NBA history. Think about that. This record isn’t held by Wilt, MJ, Kareem or Lebron. It’s held by Jeremy Freaking Lin. He is one of three Knicks ever to have at least twenty points and seven assists in five straight starts and he did it in his first five starts.

But it’s for reasons completely disconnected from statistics where the differences blare like a siren. Tim Tebow’s commercials and personal branding speak about how everyone has always doubted him, but in reality, he’s has every privilege and advantage. He was home-schooled but was still allowed to play Florida high school sports. He was allowed to play in a college spread offense built around his rather unique skill set. He was drafted in the first round even though many scouts saw him as a mid- to high-round project. He is  treated like an All-American superstar even without the game to back it up. His clean-cut, Evangelical whiteness has caused Republican politicians, sportswriters and Katy Perry to simply swoon. His connections to the right-wing edge of the Christian evangelical movement have gone uninvestigated and escaped mainstream criticism. (And yes, he’s already making noise about running for office after retirement.)

Not to shock anyone, but Jeremy Lin is Asian-American. Clearly, this fact plus the Ivy League pedigree made scouts disinclined to see what’s clear in front of our face: that the young man has game for days. I and many others saw it in the 2010 summer league when Lin traded blows with number-one overall pick John Wall. Lin’s skills didn’t appear overnight: just his opportunity. Tim Tebow had the benefit of the doubt. Jeremy Lin was just doubted.

There are soft liberal sportswriters who say primly that they don’t notice color and just like Lin’s game. Hogwash. As former Georgetown coach John Thompson says, “The only people who don’t notice color are blind.” There is nothing wrong with noticing that Lin is an absolute trailblazer. We should celebrate the thrill and pride Lin is causing among people of Asian descent because he is making history.

One Asian-American friend of mine, wrote to me:

   "I love Jeremy Lin! As an Asian American, i take pride in the fact that he’s the first notable Asian American NBA player of my time. He’s completely inspiring to me because as a kid i gave up basketball due to Asian stereotypes of being “studious”. To me he represents a new inspiration for all the little Asian American kids out there who want to play basketball."

Another, whose family is from the Philippines, wrote:

   "This goes much beyond a straightforward racial pride thing. All of the often quiet forms of racism directed at Asians, his existence is actively smashing. Not just the joyless model minority thing, but all the things said about Asian men, all the perpetual foreigner bs, all the hokey idiotic long duck dong, Mickey Rooney characters.. In your face is what i think when i see him play… From the signs alone you get a glimpse of it encouraging other AA people to say F-U to that sh^#%t too. It’ll take a world of things to change anti-Asian racism, no doubt…. [but] I’m happy as hell thinking about my Filipino dad and brothers."

Jeremy Lin counts for something very positive, on and off the court. I would argue he has Tebow beat… on both counts.

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Spot On

Not only was Tebum a stats flop, he did it in The Year Of The Quarterback. A season when multiple quarterbacking records fell and there was no doubt that rule changes played a role in those records falling. So with the rules stacked in favor of pass happy offenses, Tebow was so bad he only passed about 19 times per game. Even with the play book rewritten for Tebum and the least pass attempts per game, he still had the lowest completion percentage by a wide margin.

It`s obvious that Tebow`s religious beliefs are a way for his flock to not face the fact that he is a terrible pro QB, and divert eyes away from his awful performance on the field. This idea that he is somehow a victim of discrimination, rather than a priveleged golden receiving unmerited opportunity at the QB position, is complete nonsense. The contrast between Tebum and Lin couldn`t be starker.

More B.S. from "White Guilt" Master Marxist Zirin....

Seriously, Dave, give up. Why do you think people were clamoring for Tebow!? If he sucked for the last 3 games of 2010 no one would care. But he showed real promise, and yet he still was benched in favor of the do-nothing Orton for the first 4 1/2 games of 2011.

Tebow led the Broncos to 6 wins in a row and then beat the Steelers in the playoffs where they were heavy underdogs. He scored 6 regular season rushing TDs in 2010 and 6 rushing TDs in 2011 -- the most of any QB. But I guess since he doesn't have the poise and throwing arm of a stud like Mark Sanchez he sucks.

When Lin leads the Knicks to the 2nd round of the playoffs -- a FAR more loaded team offensively than the Broncos, if you can compare the two sports, then the comparisons can be made. But until then, more racial self-flagellation from Zirin and his acolytes.

No, Tebow didn't...

...lead all quarterbacks in rushing touchdowns in 2011. That honor belongs to Cam Newton, who has more in one year than Tebow has in two.

Mark Sanchez a stud with a throwing arm? I like the Jets and Sanchez, but it's too early to bestow such accolades on him despite his two trips to the AFC Championship game. He needs to become more consistent first.

Please, Dave, Don't Ever Make Me Agree with JJ!!

Dave: Your axe-grinding toward Tebow is clouding your good judgment. Or maybe you like to stake out ground no one else has. Either way, you're running off the rails here.

Why even start with the comparisons? Of course people will compare them for the reasons you gave -- not all of them superficial. After all, Tebow DID revive a moribund team.

But only in your (clouded) judgment does that somehow diminish Lin. And so what if Lin is better in his sport by comparison? So WHAT? Tebow doesn't deserve to have his accomplishments diminished, either.

As someone who extols the virtues of political activism in athletes, don't you think it's a bit hypocritical to make a snide aside like "...he's already making noise about running for office..."?

Look, I have no more love for right-wing evangelical Christians than you do, Dave. Woe be the day we ever have a Santorum in the White House. Creationism will be taught in every school and the Dark Ages will be fully upon us.

But, truthfully, lots of athletes have been right-wing, evangelicals, or both -- some of them publicly, right? What about Reggie White? We know that many NFL teams have had prayer circles before or after games (though none, perhaps, prayed for on-field miracles quite like our boy Tebow). Why are you singling Tebow out? Because he made an anti-abortion commercial? Again, I'm not on his side, but he's entitled to his opinion.

I'm not much of a Twitterer, but when I joined I signed up for the "Top Denver Broncos" Twitter feed. I don't exactly know who's behind it, but I guess I assumed it was the team. What's interesting is that several of the players who tweet most frequently tweet Christian biblical messages and the like. I don't love it, especially if it's team-sponsored. But so what, I just go onto the next one.

As for Tebow's skills, I think it's amazing that he could be so universally dissed considering what he accomplished and the fact that he was a 2-time Heisman winner. I have said this all along, and basically was proved right: Given half a chance, decent protection, and a grown-up's offense -- not that high school cr*p -- he'd have a good shot at a long career with the Broncos. His throwing improved visibly as the season progressed, and he made some terrific throws in the playoffs.

In addition, it was his incredible strength and mobility that kept the Broncos alive as long as they were. He really didn't have much protection in that lame option game, and he had the world's worst receiving corps (does anyone even know who the tight ends were on that team? I don't, and I'm a fan!). Yet he managed to hang in there and make plays by sheer strength, agility, and will power.

Chill out, Dave!

cause I don't care...

they are both christains....I hope they both fail miserably.

believing in god is a delusion. for the weak minded.

I don't care how "nice" they are. Nice is totally overrated.

Christains muslims, jews...whatever.....they are all brainwashed.....And anyone of them who gets a platform that might even in any slight way have an influence on someone else is a total danger.

Have to agree...

The magic man in the sky told me do things crowd scares the living s$@t out of me. Anyone who aspouses it in public should be shuned by thinking, moral, and sane members of the community. We have to start fighting back against these backward belief systems before they ruin any chance the human race has at survival. It must be stopped it must be spoken out against without fear or hesitation at every opportunity. I will say it loud and clear anyone who is a member of an organized dogmatic religion that aspouses knowing the only true nature of God, should not be a role model for anyone, but especially not for children seeking to emulate what he has accomplished.

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Dave Zirin is the author of the book: "Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics and Promise of Sports" (Haymarket). You can receive his column Edge of Sports, every week by going to
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