Thursday, February 16, 2012

Let's Make One Thing Very Clear: Jeremy Lin Is Not Tim Tebow

I'm starting to see these, in the Facebook and Twitter feeds of people who should know better but don't, and in the inevitable backlash that should let ESPN know that, well, people hate them in the way that only the company in a company town can be hated.

It's the Jeremy Lin backlash.

Too much coverage, you see. Too many religious references. He must be overrated, artificial, too good to be true, proof of some greater media or race-based or marketing conspiracy...

and oh, please, people, STOP.

Tim Tebow won games when the rest of his team played out of their minds, and his opponents fell apart late from not being built to match up against a ground attack. He could only ever win games one way, and there was little statistical proof to support the idea that he was truly a plus player. The benefits that he gave to his team required interpretation and understanding, and you could watch him and understand, without any other knowledge of who or what he was, why men and women of good conscience might not think he was good enough to play at this level.

Now, Lin. It is not hard to watch him play; it is hard to watch the Knicks without him. The team has won when he was been the big scorer, and tonight, when he was a big passer. They've won with him hitting threes and running from ahead, and they've won when he struggled early and had to come from behind. Short of both being open about their faith -- and oh, by the way, that's something they share with a probable majority of pro athletes, in that trusting your body and athletic skills to stay with you for the decade of sluice that is adolescent to adult athletic training requires a busload of faith at the minimum -- and over six feet tall and bipeds, they really don't have that much in common. (Um, Harvard vs. the University of Florida. Really, you think these two grads have a ton in common?)

I'm not saying you have to love the guy. Rooting for a New York team to win is right up there with rooting for the house, and while I get that Knick Fan has suffered much, they also haven't taken the thoroughly defensible action of a 100% picket and/or walkout of Madison Square Dolan at any point in his tenure. They pay for this and pay for this and pay for this; on some level, you can only feel bad for the rubes for so long before you also take their money.

But blaming Lin for the sins of ESPN isn't right, either. Painting him with the Tebow brush cheapens what he's done, and reduces a far more interesting story to rerun. And veering into backlash by instinct because you are tired of hearing about a guy too much in the media means that, well, you are watching too much media and not enough game.

And who's fault is that, really?


Anonymous said...

Sir: Comparing a basket ball player / team to a football player /team is apples and oranges. Instead of criticizing Tebow remember BRONCOS were #1 rushing team in entire NFL.
Compare Tebow with: Notre Dames' Jimmy Clausen (Panthers), or Mizou's Chase Daniels (New Orleans) or the two U.S.C. pro q.b.'s Heisman winner Matt Leinart(Az.) John David Booty (Vikings) on the bench or out of NFL!
Even Mark Sanchez compare apples with apples.

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