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updated: 12/29/2011 6:28 AM

Bulls' Korver admires Tebow but takes a different approach

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  • Casual fans might be unaware that Bulls guard Kyle Korver is deeply committed to his faith.

       Casual fans might be unaware that Bulls guard Kyle Korver is deeply committed to his faith.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

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The fact that a deeply religious athlete has captured America's attention has not gone unnoticed by Bulls guard Kyle Korver.

There seem to be no lukewarm opinions when it comes to Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. He has been celebrated, imitated and ridiculed since becoming the starter earlier this fall.

"There's no doubting that he's been like a lightning rod," Korver said. "There have been a lot of great things that have come from it and some difficult things for him to deal with and obviously a lot of backlash in different ways.

"But it's a pretty fascinating story."

Like Korver, Tebow is the son of a pastor and grew up heavily involved in church activities.

Unlike Tebow, Korver doesn't broadcast his religious beliefs. He's happy to talk about them, but casual fans may be completely unaware that Korver is deeply committed to his faith.

"I've thought about it a lot, actually," Korver said of the Tebow phenomenon. "I think from a Christian's perspective, you're trying to see what's working. I think it's different strokes for different folks.

"I tend not to be quite so vocal about what I believe. To me, you try to live a life that makes sense to somebody else. At the right time and the right conversation, you have that conversation."

Korver pauses to gather his thoughts before speaking but doesn't shy away from the topic. He admires what Tebow has accomplished on the football field and doesn't try to judge the quarterback's approach with religion.

"For as much as he's interviewed and on TV, he doesn't misspeak," Korver said. "He can say something you can disagree with, but he never comes across as condemning or judging, and I think that's awesome."

Korver actively promotes his charity work. He helped create the Seer clothing line to raise funds for his foundation. One of its main activities is building handicapped ramps for families in need.

When Korver started playing in the NBA with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2003, he didn't make a conscious decision to keep his religious beliefs private.

"So many people talk up their faith. Maybe I'm too sensitive about how it's brought up," he said. "It's such a reverent thing to me that I don't want to just throw it out there. I do believe in sharing the Gospel and, in the right opportunities, not being ashamed of what you believe in.

"My family has a philosophy that we were brought up with -- faith should be caught and not taught. So it's not about going out there and telling everybody what you believe. You've got to be able to back it up a little bit with a life that reflects that. I think it's a good motto."

Korver has never met Tebow, but he does have a firsthand reference. The former Florida star was a classmate of Bulls center Joakim Noah in college. Noah has raved about Tebow's character.

"Everything I've heard about him is he's like an unbelievable standup guy," Korver said. "It's easy as a Christian to be like, 'They're just hating on me because I have Jesus in me.' Sometimes, you're just annoying. Sometimes people don't like you because you're just annoying and you don't come across very well.

"So it's a sensitive topic. You can't argue with how he plays. He comes through in the clutch moments when he needs to. I just think that really shows something about his character and who he is."

mmcgraw@dailyherald.com

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