Former benchwarmer Jeremy Lin is quickly becoming the toast of the NBA, posting career numbers while leading the injury-plagued Knicks to three consecutive victories. The Harvard grad, a slow-footed point guard who lacks an outside jumpshot, was cut from two teams last year before finding his way to the end of New York's bench, where he languished until this past week. Now, a series of clutch baskets and other dazzling moves have merchandisers scrambling to get the guard's number 17 jersey on shelves for an increasingly rabid fanbase. (He even has his own rap song.) Given the Ivy leaguer's outspoken Christianity, unexpected success, and internet buzz, is Jeremy Lin the NBA's answer to Tim Tebow?
Yes, this is "Linsanity": The point guard certainly "checks all the Tebow-esque boxes," says Jake Simpson at The Atlantic. He's a college star who was expected to fail in the pros. He's a devout Christian who thanks Jesus after every game. He plays a key position on a team that was flailing before he arrived. (He doesn't even have a place to call home, sleeping on his brother's couch in New York's Lower East Side.) Yes, like Tim Tebow, Jeremy Lin fulfills "several prerequisites for Internet superstardom," and it's no wonder his run this week drove the blogosphere "berserk." As impressive as Lin's court presense has been, it's "dwarfed by his larger-than-life image online."
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The comparison doesn't really work: "The Lin-Tebow comparison is facile," says Eric Freeman at Yahoo. Sure, the Christianity parallels are there. And Lin even cites Tebow's approach to winning and off-field charity as an inspiration. But Lin "wasn't drafted and received no scholarship offers as a recruit," while Tebow "was a first-round pick, won the Heisman, and was a consensus top prospect in high school."
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In any case, this is a special moment: "I have seen a lot of Knicks fans' neuroses and breakdowns play out in public before, but never quite like this," says Emma Carmichael at Deadspin. It's as if nervous fans are afraid "the mere mention of [Lin's] name might make him disappear, like some kind of magical elf." After all, despite his solid fundamentals, his playing time and production will not last forever, especially as better teams start giving him attention. He remains a mystery. Still, I can pinpoint at least one reason why Lin's rise has been so much fun to watch: "He is having the best time ever."
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