Saturday, February 18, 2012

Jeremy Lin Is Not Tim Tebow

By John Woods

Jeremy Lin is not nearly as good as he’s been made out to be by ESPN and Chinatown. The Knicks played exactly one winning team (the Lakers) on their seven-game winning streak, and Derek Fisher is not The Glove. They should be able to beat a wimpy 7-22 Washington team and not have to come back from double-digit deficits against both Minnesota and Toronto. They’re still only 15-16.

This breakout could have only happened in New York, and not just because it’s the greatest city in the world. Lin’s stats, like many before him, have been D’inflated by the system in which he plays. Steve Nash has two MVPs in large part due to Mike D’Antoni’s system. Chris Duhon currently holds the Knicks’ single-game record for assists (22), and Raymond Felton looked like an All-Star last year. Neither Chris nor Felt looks good anymore - Duhon’s been one of the worst players in the league for the last few years in Orlando.

The only reason Lin got a shot is because the Knicks had absolutely no one better. Toney Douglas? Iman Shumpert? The corpses of Mike Bibby and Baron Davis? None of them could play in the most pure-PG system in the league.

But now, thanks to the media’s manufacturing of Tim Tebow as an elite QB, the inevitable comparisons have come out. Like Tebow, Lin is supposed to have come out of nowhere to captivate a sport like no other.

Jeremy Lin should not be compared to Tim Tebow. It’s not a fair comparison. To Lin.

I feel obliged to say that I am an avowed Tebow-hater. The Tebow saga was the most nauseating story to churn its way through sports media in years, causing everyone to lose his or her mind as to how this could have happened.

Tim Tebow was well known. Lin, not so much.

We all know Tebow as the highly recruited quarterback who won two national titles and a Heisman Trophy, and a first round pick to boot. The question for him was whether he could play quarterback in the NFL - not whether he was a bad quarterback. There’s a major difference. Thousands of "good" college QBs have failed in the NFL.

On the other hand, Jeremy Lin, even though he was California’s player of the year as a senior, went unrecruited by nearly every school. Harvard was only able to get him because both Stanford and UCLA refused to consider him, not to mention the Harvard assistant that first saw him claimed he would be a Division III player.

Fast forward four years: The non-guranteed Jeremy Lin was cut from Golden State in a futile attempt to sign DeAndre Jordan. Houston would cut him as well.

Both of them being evangelical Christians hasn’t helped things. But Tebow’s far more conspicuous. Lin seems content to be like many players and simply thank God in a press conference. Tebow wants the media to make a big deal that he’s a “virgin.” Tebowing started because Tebow wanted to constantly remind everyone that he’s a Christian and better than everyone else. Lin isn’t going to appear in any anti-abortion commercial on Super Bowl Sunday.

Tebow’s race hasn’t impacted his sports career. Lin’s has at every level. Had Lin been white, he would have played for Stanford. Nobody’s claimed that Tebow’s signing was a publicity stunt, as commentators did with Golden State (playing in a heavily Asian area) and Lin.

The biggest difference between them is the two sports they play. Football is not basketball. One player in football doesn’t have the effect of one in basketball. LeBron James, by himself, can lead a terrible Cleveland team to the NBA Finals. Peyton Manning wouldn’t have been able to will this year’s Indianapolis team to a winning season even if he didn’t have a likely career-ending neck injury...

And Tebow happens to play quarterback, the position that fans ascribe most undue feelings towards. Eli Manning wasn’t the best player on the Giants in the Super Bowl, but because he was the quarterback he won the MVP. As Gisele bluntly put it, Brady can’t make Wes Welker catch an easy first down to ice said game. It’s not Mark Sanchez’s fault that Wayne Hunter is the worst starting tackle in the league.

Tim Tebow was not the reason the Broncos won the division title. Actual reasons? Having the #1 rush in the NFL. Minnesota, San Diego, Chicago, and the Jets all blowing fourth-quarter leads. (Having watched the latter game – the Jets lost that game. Tebow didn’t win it.) The Broncos’ defense suddenly coming alive right when Tebow was named the starter. A large amount of luck. It was in spite of Tebow that the Broncos won. If Tebow’s the starter at the end of 2012, I’ll be utterly shocked. (The NFL’s not kind to gimmicks. Remember Miami and the wildcat?)

Jeremy Lin has been the reason for the Knicks’ winning streak. Unlike Tebow, he’s actually skilled at his position. Tebow has about one attribute (speed) and nothing else. Lin has excellent court vision and driving ability to the hoop, as he’s shown many times. The term “clutch” is very overused, but that describes Lin’s play in the fourth quarter thus far. He’s done all of this without both Carmelo and Amar'e and playing alongside Bill Walker and Steve Novak, among other scrubs.

Jeremy Lin’s no Tebow. He’s much better.

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