If you don't know who Tim Tebow is today then chances are you've never heard of Jeremy Lin either.
Let me bring you up to speed really quick:
Jeremy Lin is an American born basketball player of Taiwanese descent, who is so currently popular, or should I say, "trending" (the new term for popular, albeit, 'trendy', yet not), that just an internet search of "Taiwanese descent" will bring you to the man himself.
Lin attended high school in Palo Alto, CA, then onto Harvard College, after receiving no "big time" offers to play collegiate basketball, and is now a star on the rise with the New York Knicks, after two other teams let him go. But not only is he on the Knicks, but he's breaking records, and propelling the franchise back into relevancy.
Did I mention that he's Asian? No? Well, that matters here, a lot.
He's the kid who was probably passed over because of his heritage, good education, and looks, but is now the talk inside every sports bar.
That's Jeremy Lin.
On the other side of the ledger is what I'll call "the negative", like any good accountant. In that column is a man-boy named Tim Tebow.
Unlike Lin, Tebow has been given every chance, every boost, and every opportunity imaginable to become a "success story." He was raised by good parents, is white (I can't stress this enough), openly Christian, attended a college football powerhouse (Florida), and was picked in the first round of the NFL Draft despite his inability to do the one thing you really need to do well to succeed at his position: throw the football.
Despite all of these things in his favor, Tebow is considered the "underdog", similar to Jeremy Lin.
While both players were sitting on the bench for their respective teams, throngs of fans nationwide were demanding Tebow play, despite the fact there was a better player occupying his position. In Lin's case, if he had been cut (that means let go) the day before he started his first game with the Knicks, no one would have noticed, other than the people who know him.
In other words, the two players could not be more opposite, yet they're being compared as if they are in fact living the same reality.
You could be asking yourself, "Well then, why are they constantly compared?"
The simple answers: The media and "trending."
The coverage of these two men, and the fan bewilderment is overwhelming, but that's where it should end. It won't.
Rather than explain to you at length the absurdity of the media coverage, I suggest you just turn your television to any one of ESPN's channels, and see it for yourself. You can't miss it.
And yet one also might wonder if I'm also comparing the two by writing this, and on some level the answer is "yes." Yet the reason I am is because despite all of the coverage, no one seems to hitting on the most important point when comparing the two:
Jeremy Lin has already become completely successful. Tim Tebow is not even close.
Because Lin did come from out of nowhere, and is the first American-born Asian player to make it in the NBA, he has already reached a level of success no player like him ever has. Whether, or not, he maintains this level of play we're currently witnessing, Lin has solidified a place for himself within the NBA. That is a tremendous accomplishment. Doing it in the fashion he has only makes it that much more special. Yet regardless, Jeremy Lin has already made it. He's done. If he gets injured in his next game, and never plays another minute of basketball, his legacy is secure. On some level, he's doing for hoops what Tiger Woods did for golf: breaking barriers. That's special.
Contrast this with Tim Tebow. If he was injured tomorrow, and never played another game again, his legacy would be far from secure. In fact, the likelihood is most knowledgeable fans would forget about his short time in the NFL. Surely people would reflect on all of the drama surrounding his career, but he wouldn't be spoken of in reverential terms as a player. In other words, as a football player, he wouldn't matter. This is because as a first round draft pick, with nearly everything in life tilted in his favor, Tim Tebow hasn't proven very much at all.
The issue with this comparison is the media refuses to acknowledge the supposed reality they created for the fans. Tebow is a media-created phenomenon, so any opportunity to mention him, or compare him, results in ratings. Using Jeremy Lin's truly incredible, and somewhat inspiring story, is just another chance for the media to play up their own hype, which is what they're doing in spades.
By the way, if you're not sick of the Jeremy Lin story yet, you sure as hell will be when NBA players are dunking over the couch during All Star Week. This is happening.
And if you're already sick of Jeremy Lin, you can thank the media's coverage of Tim Tebow for making you feel this way in the first place. Two feel good stories in this short period of time is too much, even in this "now" society we live in. The contrived nature of the first has in essence soured the second.
Had the media only known a truly remarkable story was coming soon maybe they would have backed off their own fabricated version.
As for Lin's play, it's been phenomenal, but it's not going to last. Obviously I'm sayign what we all know. He will undoubtedly be a solid NBA player, and may in fact carry the Knicks to the playoffs. But my guess is teams are going to figure him out a bit more than they already have. I'm actually surprised it has taken this long.
What Lin does well is obvious, he runs the "pick and roll", and essentially is a poor man's version of Steve Nash. He's a pretty good passer of the ball, an above average jump shooter, but more than anything he has the ability to play the game at the pace he wants it played. That is the sign of a good point guard, and Lin is just that. There have been other NBA point guards who weren't very fast, like Mark Jackson and Derek Harper, but the game was played at their speed. It's a true talent, and if you've ever played the game you know the player your guarding only needs to have one step to be successful: the one where he's making you backup. Lin has that.
On the other hand it's painfully obvious Jeremy Lin has an average left hand. Every time he's forced to go left he is able to do so with the dribble, but when he gets into the paint he brings the ball back to the right side of his body, in the hopes of making a difficult shot, or being fouled. He's doing a great job of the latter. At some point players will figure this out, and won't foul him. Either way, Lin does draw contact, and this brings him to the foul line. Just a willingness to go inside is a good thing.
Unlike Derrick Rose, John Wall, or Chris Paul, he cannot finish the play with either hand. In fact, even Nash could finish with either hand (he could do a hook shot with either), and even more impressive, PASS with either hand. This is something Lin cannot do (most players can't), and as far as finishing, he may not have big enough hands, or be strong enough to use his left with command. The few occasions where he does, he flips the ball toward the basket in the hopes it goes in.
This flaw in his game won't result in him not being good because there's no doubt he will be, but he won't be an all-star caliber player year after year. Nor does he need to be.
One of the best parts of watching Lin play is how he uses fundamentals to overcome the lack of physical skills other great point guards possess, and that's what is really exciting to so many. Lets be honest here, but the "white" style of playing basketball went out the door around the same time "And 1" sneakers came into fashion. Lin plays that type of game. The backdoor, pick and roll, Princeton/Ivy League-type offense, where using your head creates opportunities. White people love this because it's the game most of them played.
Fortunately for Lin, he is on a relatively smart basketball team. Landry Fields graduated Stanford, and understands the game. Iman Shumpert doesn't need to shoot much, and relies on being setup to score. Amar'e Stoudamire benefits from having a pick and roll guard, similar to Nash, where he gets the ball in a position to score, and Carmelo Anthony has always been a good catch and shoot player, but has never had a point guard able to set him up. Lin isn't playing with run-and-gun high school kids, or players who recently came straight out of college after one season. He's mostly playing with a smart team, even if at times they seem like the dumbest team on the planet (sans-Lin).
In the end, Lin will be successful, but certainly a move back toward this stratosphere is happening very quickly. He'll turn the ball over less as he grows more comfortable, his stats will be more like 13/8 (awesome), and his defense will be predicated on his offense. As one goes, so will the other.
In the end, it's been fun to watch, and I look forward to seeing if Jeremy Lin can get his team to the playoffs...
LIKE TIM TEBOW DID!!!