There’s nothing quite like hearing the entire crowd at MSG shout, “Ooooh!” in unison when Jeremy Lin breaks the ankle of an opposing defender with his quick-strike crossover. Seriously, I can understand why — despite their long run of frustration (and, believe me, as a longsuffering Lions fan, I know frustration) — players want to play for the Knickerbockers.

Watching Jeremy Lin light up the crowd, hearing them chant his name (along with M-V-P), listening to Walt “Clyde” Frazier’s announcing gymnastics about him — it all lends itself to a sense of big-brotherly pride. Well, for someone my age, it’s more like an uncle or cheering on a former youth group student, but you get what I’m saying.

A Reason to Cheer

As this Times article points out, there are many people who would find affinity with and reason to cheer boisterously for JLin7: Asian Americans, Christians, Ivy Leaguers (who rarely get to watch alumns make it in the NBA – for real, I remember cheering/cringing while I watched fellow Quaker Matt Maloney play alongside The Dream, The Glide, and The Round Mound of Rebound for the Rockets back in the day), New Yorkers, and anyone who like a good underdog story.

Lin & Tebow

Kevin Ngyuen raises a very linteresting (an aside: I’m really loving the nickname/puns for Jeremy Lin [minus, of course, the obligatory trollish/racist nonsense]. From #Linsanity trending on the Twitter machine, to Spike Lee’s Jeremy “My Shot is Fall” Lin, it’s too much fun. Here’s one I’ve been working on: To those who’ve been on the receiving end of his killer crossover, you could say, “You just got your Linternship” — because he’s teaching them to do work. Maybe I still need to work on that one.) question on Next Gener.Asian Church that others have voiced as well: Is Jeremy Lin the next Tim Tebow?

On the one hand, they’re both faithful Christian athletes who are very open about their faith. Both have excelled in positions that receive the harshest media glare (quarterback, point guard). Neither was expected to succeed.

However, the Lin/Tebow comparison drives one of my college students here in SD — a gifted baller himself —  completely nuts. His point: Tebow (and I’m a fan, so don’t take this the wrong way) has awkward mechanics at best, typically plays three quarters of awful-to-mediocre football then launches into a frenetic fourth quarter miracle (which certainly adds to the mystique, but doesn’t inspire confidence for long-term success), and barely has the backing of his own front office.

As NG.AC commenter Sara Choe points out, “Lin’s career has been marked by scrappiness and obscurity” — no college scholarship offers, undrafted, cut by multiple NBA teams. Tebow entered college as a top recruit, played at Florida on a scholarship, won the Heisman and a national title, and entered the NFL with massive media hype. Very different storylines, indeed.

By all accounts, Lin plays his position with genuine skill (read more about the finer points of his dribbling in this WSJ article) whereas Tebow’s unorthodox style has been endlessly debated by shouting heads on ESPN and beyond. Even if some people think this is all social media-hype (and, seriously, my Facebook feed is blowing up with Lin-related updates), Lin has evidence of success against stiff competition (getting the best of Kemba Walker in college, meeting John Wall’s challenge in the NBA summer league, etc.).

EDIT: Case in point – this Lin your face crossover/slam on the aforementioned John Wall:

Humility & Grace

Whatever the outcome of his career, I’m hoping that Jeremy Lin continues to conduct himself with the kind of humility and grace he’s already displayed. I love this quote from an InterVarsity interview with Jeremy Lin back in March 2010 (h/t: James Choung):

I’ve learned how to be open and bold about my faith, but in terms of my influence, I just try to lead in a godly way. What that means for me is to serve them, whether it’s just doing the dirty work, like cleaning up sweat on the floor, or deferring to other people, or carrying equipment bags. In basketball these days, the rookies and freshmen are supposed to do the grunt work, and seniors relax and hang out, but when you reverse that, or when seniors help out with some of that, it shows that you’re trying to serve them, and that’s a good way to lead.

Here’s to a gifted athlete who, despite losing to his teammates in Monopoly, demonstrates what being a winner is all about.