Saturday, February 11, 2012

Is Jeremy Lin the next Tim Tebow?

It hasn't been long since Tim Tebow of the Denver Broncos took the sports world by storm, becoming the most popular athlete in the world with a series of clutch performances and his public expressions of faith. Now, on the hardwood, we have Jeremy Lin, newly of the New York Knicks, rocking the NBA. 

Jeremy is a second year player out of Harvard University. He wasn't considered good enough to get a scholarship, but still became the first player in Ivy League history to record 1,450 points, 450 rebounds, 400 assists and 200 steals. He went undrafted but stunned scouts with his play in the summer league after being invited to play with the Dallas Mavericks summer squad. Lin was signed to a two-year contract with the Golden State Warriors before the 2010-11 season, but played sparingly, being sent to the development league three times. The day after the lockout ended he was waived by Golden State and available to everyone in the league.

Houston picked him up off waivers on Dec. 12 and then waived him on Dec. 24 to clear cap space for Samuel Dalembert. This led to him finally being picked up by the New York Knicks on December 27. He was sent down to the D-league in January, recalled after posting a triple double (double figures in points, assists and rebounds). He was recalled three days later. I don't think he'll be leaving anytime soon. Here's what he's done since getting regular minutes.
  • February 4th vs. New Jersey: 35 Minutes - 7 Assists - 25 Points
  • February 6th vs. Utah: 45 Minutes - 8 Assists - 28 Points
  • February 8th vs. Washington: 35 Minutes - 10 Assists - 23 Points
  • February 10th vs. Los Angeles Lakers: 38 Minutes - 7 Assists - 38 Points
One of's announcers stated that "This is not just the story of the year, this is one of the greatest stories of the last ten years!" So what's the big deal?

Lin is playing at the most challenging position on the court - point guard. He is a rookie, having played only a handful of minutes over the past couple of years. He's also stepped into a Knick's lineup that is without stars Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudamire and has led them to four straight wins, putting them back into playoff contention when it looked as though the season was lost. His points totals in four straight games have rarely been done in the history of the NBA, remarkable particularly for  a player with his lack of experience.

With all of that being said, perhaps the most interesting story line is the faith of Jeremy Lin. He has stated that Tim Tebow is an inspiration for him. His candid statements are refreshing. He said about Tebow, “I actually 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.”

He's been receiving media attention on a smaller scale for a while because of his heritage. His parents emigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan. Here's what he said about those earlier challenges. “When the media attention was starting to grow around me, I felt as though I had to play well just to please everyone else. It was a great burden, and it took the joy out of the game for me. See, the truth is that I can’t even play for myself. The right way to play is not for others and not for myself, but for God.”

“I still don't fully understand what that means; I struggle with these things every game, every day. I'm still learning to be selfless and submit myself to God and give the game up to Him. It's a challenge, but thankfully I'm learning more and more.”
His attitude is very similar to Tebow, which is a very refreshing change from the ego-centric prima donnas of the NBA. It will be intersting to see how he continues to handle the media circus now swirling like a tornado around him. Can he hold to his values? “Society focuses so much on individual stats and wins and losses. To a certain extent, you can control those things. But to play for God means to leave the records and the statistics up to Him and give your best effort and allow God to figure out whether you win or lose, whether you play or shoot the ball well that game. So I just try to make sure that I work hard and in a godly way. I prepare myself as well as I can, and at every point during the game I try to submit myself to God and let Him use me, and if we really understand the gospel, we will be humble. We should be humble, and understand that everything that is good comes from God.”
I, for one, am cheering for this kid (he's 23). It would be great to have a role model on the basketball court as good as Tebow has become on the football field. Here's a question: what does it say about what the public wants that the two most popular athletes in the world today are both devout Christians? Perhaps the world is looking (hoping) for good role models too.
Here are some of his highlights from the Feb. 10th Laker game.
Related Articles:
Tim Tebow and John 3:16 - What's Up With That?
Tim Tebow Mania
Just Do The Right Thing!
"Truth" - by Ravi Zacharias

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