Jeremy Lin and Tim Tebow: The comparison doesn’t hold up


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Jeremy Lin and Tim Tebow have been phenomenons who transcended their sports this fall and winter. Each helped reverse stumbling franchises; each has extraordinary leadership skills; each is a model of humility and a person of faith.

But that’s about where the similarities end. Lin has shown himself to be a singular talent, scoring more points in his first five starts than any NBA player since the ABA merger, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Tebow ranked 27th in NFL quarterback ratings.


Sure, Tebow led the Denver Broncos to the playoffs when they were going nowhere, his season highlighted by his third overtime victory in eight starts on Dec. 11, a 13-10 win over the Chicago Bears. Lin, who has started five games now, has led the New York Knicks to six consecutive victories, including the stunning victory Tuesday night over Toronto when he nailed a last-second three-pointer for the win.

PHOTOS: Jeremy Lin

Their paths to iconic status, however, have been entirely different. Tebow came into the NFL as one of the most highly publicized rookies ever. He won the Heisman Trophy at Florida, was on a couple of BCS championship teams. He was the quintessential college quarterback.

To be sure, there were questions about whether he could be an effective NFL quarterback, with his limited passing skills and running-game mentality. But the polarizing quarterback was on everyone’s radar. Tim Tebow didn’t slip through any cracks.

Lin played at Harvard, about as far under the radar as a Division I basketball player can get. The Crimson didn’t sniff NCAA tournament play; the last time Harvard made it was 1946, 42 years before Lin was born. No NBA team drafted him, and there was little indication in his 29 games with Golden State last season that Lin was anything truly special.

But once Lin took over the Knicks this season, all that changed. There are still many doubters about Tebow and his long-term effectiveness in the NFL. After the last six games, no one can doubt Lin’s potential.

With the Knicks missing Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, Lin suddenly emerged in Coach Mike Antoni’s point-guard oriented offense. And his self-assurance in waving his teammates back to take the winning three-pointer Tuesday not only showed that he’s got exceptional skill, but his confidence is on the same level.

Now the Knicks await the return of Anthony from his groin injury. But if the way Lin played Tuesday is any indication, dishing out 11 assists to go with his 27 points, it seems unlikely that he won’t be able to adapt. Tebowmania swept the sports world last fall; Linsanity is all of that and more.


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-- Mike James

Left photo: Tim Tebow. Credit: Barry Gutierrez / Associated Press

Right photo: Jeremy Lin. Credit: Frank Gunn / Associated Press