By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
“Linsanity” chronicles the dramatic rise of professional basketball player Jeremy Lin. From benchwarmer to the toast of New York, the film identifies the trials and tribulations of the Taiwanese American’s fight to make it on a roster in the NBA.
The film covers Lin’s childhood, his goal of playing basketball, his love of family and devotion to his faith.
Home videos show Jeremy and his brothers at the beach, at a piano recital, and, of course, playing basketball.
The movie also grants viewers a glimpse of an average Asian American family. It’s a genuine look at the cultural give and take between the first and second generation. Lin, even as a player with a guaranteed contract in the NBA, playfully discusses the merits of laundry with his mother.
The episode is comedic. His mother asks if he does anything other than nap and eat. Of course, he also plays professional basketball.
The most revealing moments occur when Lin talks about his NBA journey. Lin recalls getting skipped over in the draft, and playing as a “try out” on an NBA Summer League. His summer league game against the No. 1 overall pick that year, John Wall, put him on the radar of many teams that overlooked him.
Even with that breakthrough performance, Lin struggled. He bounced around from the Golden State Warriors, to the Houston Rockets, and in and out of the NBA Developmental League. Lin had to grapple with the uncertainty of his talent.
His career jumpstarted on Feb. 4, 2012, when as a New York Knick he got inserted into a game against the New Jersey Nets. The experience was just the beginning of a magical month and a-half of play, thrusting Lin into the spotlight.
In the documentary, Lin retells the great stories of his success, including his first game against the Nets, his showdown with Kobe Bryant who told reporters he didn’t know who Jeremy Lin was and his last-second, game winning buzzer beater shot against the Toronto Raptors.
Lin was not afraid to reveal his emotions during the documentary. After his huge game against the Nets, he shed tears of joy for the greatest game of his life.
As the first Asian American to achieve such status on the basketball court, the documentary looked at the various stereotypes Lin faced throughout his life, including offensive language in the outtakes from newscasts and talk shows. Lin is frank about the stereotypes and racism he has faced, and how they have fueled his desire to succeed.
“Linsanity” includes interviews with Lin’s mother, his brothers, his pastor and various media, including ESPN writer and Harvard alum Pablo Torre and blogger for Angry Asian Man, Phil Yu. The documentary is narrated by Daniel Dae Kim of “Lost” and “Hawaii Five-0.”
Director Evan Jackson Leong started the project when Lin was in college. Leong collected $125,000 from crowdfunding from Kickstarter. “Linsanity” earned a standing ovation at the Sundance Film Festival.
If you are a basketball fan, or just a fan of a great underdog story, “Linsanity” is a slam dunk documentary. You will cheer for Lin through his tough times and glow with pride when you see him succeeding on the biggest stages in the NBA.
After watching the documentary, it’s sad to note that Seattle still does not have a basketball team. We never got to see the spectacle of Linsanity in person.
Seattle should continue to work on that. In the meantime, catch “Linsanity.” (end)
Jason Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.