Tebow-Mania and Linsanity Comparisons Ring False

Jeremy Lin has reinvigorated basketball in New York City and become a national phenomenon.  Months ago, Tim Tebow spawned Tebow-Mania in Denver and became a national phenomenon.  Since both men are Christian and underdogs, this has lead a ton of major mainstream media personalities to compare the two constantly.   That would be fine, were the comparisons not almost entirely false in terms of their actual sports.

Tim Tebow was a Heisman Trophy winner and is arguably the greatest college quarterback ever.  His unorthodox style made him extremely unlikely to succeed in the NFL and most experts consistently argued such.  The fans, however, weren’t hearing it.  With an unsuccessful team, the rabid fanbase demanded Tebow be allowed to start, and, eventually, they got their wish. Although he put up poor numbers, Tebow just kept winning, all the way to the playoffs where he finally put up great numbers in defeating the heavily favored Pittsburgh Steelers.  That the Broncos were then killed by the Patriots is incidental – Tebow showed real growth as a quarterback.  Was some of his hype due to his being extremely religious?  Absolutely.  Was some due to his unorthodox style?  Undoubtedly.  But if this kid weren’t (maybe) the greatest college QB ever from one of the biggest college football teams in the nation, we’d never hear of him and he’d never get a shot despite that what he’s doing seems to be working.  Given his pedigree, which is, again, why we know who he is, he was going to be given a shot at some point, and, then, it was up to him to succeed.

Jeremy Lin is a player we know from his pedigree, as well, but Lin’s pedigree was more an impediment to his success, to his ever receiving a fair shot, than it was a benefit.  Going to Harvard and being Asian American, Lin was tapped with numerous stigmas from the start – most notably that he wasn’t athletic enough for the NBA.  It’s easy to compare this to Tebow, who supposedly didn’t have the accuracy for the NFL, but Tebow’s accuracy in the NFL is nearly historically bad while Lin’s athleticism is, at worst, league average.  Tebow plays unlike any NFL QB in the past 60-years, but Lin’s got a mix of Sam Cassel and Steve Nash in his game, to name just a couple.  Tebow succeeded despite atrocious traditional stats while Lin has put up historically great numbers.  Lin is even less of an over religious figure than Tebow.

Lin’s impressiveness in the NBA comes largely from the fact that no one ever does this in basketball.  Unlike the NFL, where a franchise quarterback may fall several rounds – Tom Brady – or slip from pick 2 to the 20s – Aaron Rodgers – in the NBA, franchise level talents never come out of nowhere like this.  Second rounders develop – Latrell Sprewell comes immediately to mind – and guys come out of nowhere – John Starks to keep the Knicks connection – but undrafted players immediately putting up Lebron James/Magic Johnson numbers?  That’s entirely unheard of.  That scouting reports will catch up to him is simply silly – remember when the same was said of Lebron early? There were claims he’d have to develop so much more immediately, but, no, when you’re this good, simply staying ahead of the curve keeps you great.  Tebow, despite his pedigree, has to improve to keep up with his own defense and become a good NFL quarterback who won’t get destroyed in big games by big offenses.  Lin, despite his, is already there and that’s ultimately why the comparisons of the two ring so false.

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