You haven’t heard? Jeremy Lin and Tim Tebow are brothers from another mother… Christian brothers to be precise. And, similar to Tebow, Lin thanks God after every game. So why is it that Jeremy Lin isn’t receiving the same public scrutiny that Tim Tebow did?
There is not any question that Jeremy Lin is a Christian. He isn’t afraid to say it. He belongs to a conservative, evangelical Chinese Church of Christ in California. He grew up in a Christian home, was a member of the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship at Harvard, he actively gives his testimony publicly (see Part 1 and Part 2), and recently he even said that he believes that his present rise to fame is a miracle. Heck, on his Wikipedia page it even says that one day he’d like to be a pastor.
Now it’s only been a few days – so maybe I am premature with this but nobody seems to mind Jeremy Lin like they do Tim Tebow.
Sure, Lin doesn’t have a signature prayer move (yet) like Tebowing… He might never have one either but that still doesn’t seem to totally explain the public dichotomy. There are people out there – Christians in particular – that can’t stand Tim Tebow’s constant praise of God at every turn. But thus far, for Jeremy Lin, it’s OK. Here are a few potential reasons to consider why this may be the case:
1.) For Tebow, it is possible that it is a lot of things that cause this public disdain. He played for the University of Florida – a lot of college football fans don’t like U of Florida sports. So Tebow gets that stigma attached. Lin on the other hand played for Harvard. Let’s face it, nobody roots against Harvard unless they are from another Ivy League (type) school.
2.) Because of his big school collegiate successes, Tebow has also been in the spotlight a lot longer people have had a longer time to pick him apart. So Tebow gets that stigma attached also. Jeremy Lin, while he has done a lot in his career has not done it on as large of a stage as Tebow for as long.
3.) Listening to Tim Tebow hype up his team is like watching a Christian General Patton fire his soldiers up for war. When he plays I feel like someone could punch him square in the face and then a blooded and crazy eyed Tebow would turn the other cheek, blood pouring out of his nose, as if to say “Yes SIR, may I have another!” Tim Tebow is a Gladiatoral-esque player and would probably try to play even with his head cut off. Tebow is humble yet he is walking testosterone incarnate.
Jeremy Lin on the other hand is like watching a 6’3” Larry Bird. He looks outmatched compared to other guys around him – but a large percentage of his shots miraculously go in. He twists and turns like an inflexible cirque du soleil performer in order to drive to the hole past numerous Goliaths closing in on him. He unbelievably makes passes that you didn’t even see while you were armchair coaching from your Samsung HD TNT Press Box. You play basketball against guys his size all of the time in pickup games in the YMCA Rec. League or your local High School and YOU win. He seems average to people and they like that because he makes you believe that you too could do what he’s doing with the right opportunity.
4.) Just about everyone knows that Tebow is an evangelical christian. And everyone knows that all evangelicals are bad – even if they personally don’t know one (sarcasm). Not everyone knows that Jeremy Lin is an evangelical yet.
5.) A lot of people love to criticize Tim Tebow’s play on the field, saying that his passes look like wobbling ducks and that he is as unorthodox as it comes even with as many wins as he had this season. And while Lin shares this winning streak and the most points, 136, by any player in his first 5 NBA starts – Lin’s turnovers, 30, are also the worst by any player ever in his first five starts.
So are these really the facts that cause people to dislike Tim Tebow so much and like Lin Instead? Are the Lin haters just lying in wait? If not what is it really then that angers people about Tim Tebow and not about Lin. I’ll tell you what it is summarized in two words: Jesus Christ.
That’s right, I said it before in my article a few months back about Tebow, Tim Tebow invokes the name of Jesus at every turn… Jeremy Lin – well not so much.
Lin instead thanks “God”, which is not nearly as controversial. If you haven’t noticed, far fewer people are objectionable to the name “God” – because, in the general public’s eye, that is a far more amorphous being – a less controversial character even than Jesus. “God” could be any god as far as many are concerned and any god is not a problem. But the Christian God, the man of Jesus who calls us to a high standard of ethical and moral behavior, or worse yet in the public view – the God associated with a church that is rampant in hypocrisy – well, that God is not acceptable in the public eye.
But mark my words; if Jeremy Linn starts avidly invoking the name of Jesus Christ after games and in interviews – the gloves will come off by the Christianity critics and they will be just as fierce as they have been with Tebow. The difference will be that, this time, NYC will have Lin’s back, not just the conservative Christian headquarters of Denver like Tebow had, and that could make all of the difference.
That might then provide a distinct opportunity for Lin that Tebow hasn’t experienced yet. A platform, based on the happenstance or divine intervention (take your pick) that he now plays on a team associated with a less conservative city. Such a platform could allow Lin’s overtly Christian infused athleticism to inspire those who might otherwise oppose him because of their stigma against conservative Christians.
In this way, Jeremy Lin has a chance to be something that his Christian brother Tim Tebow has not yet been given the opportunity to be – a reconciler of conservative and liberal Christians and non-Christians who happen to get caught up in his “miraculous” circumstances. For that reason, I am all for Linsanity.