Movie Review: Linsanity

Charles Pan, Jacqui Wu, Alex Shih, Brian Yang

Article by Yvonne Lo
Photo credit Niko

Partnering with Taipei Economic and Cultural Office and Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association, Taiwanese American Professionals-NY held a private screening to a packed audience to see “Linsanity the Movie” at AMC Village 7 theater. Linsanity producer Brian Yang also attended the screening and had a Q & A session to answer viewers’ questions after the screening.

Alex Shih, Brian Yang

In February 2012, an entire nation of basketball fans unexpectedly went ‘Linsane.’ Stuck in the mire of a disappointing season, the New York Knicks did what no other NBA team had thought about doing. They gave backup point guard Jeremy Lin an opportunity to prove himself. He took full advantage, scoring more points in his first five NBA starts than any other player in the modern era, and created a legitimate public frenzy in the process. Prior to this now-legendary run, Lin had faced adversity in his career at every turn. He wasn’t offered a scholarship by any major university, nor was he drafted by any NBA team after a standout collegiate career at Harvard.

Chinese-American filmmaker Evan Jackson Leong was shooting a documentary about Lin’s career well before he became a fan favorite, which allows him to bring an insider’s perspective to one of the NBA’s most memorable career starts. With Leong skillfully orchestrating the interview segments and actor Daniel Dae Kim (Hawaii Five-O, Lost) narrating a voice-over, the film presents the full story of the Taiwanese-American NBA player, Lin’s life on and off the court. The viewer is taken behind the scenes to see his humble beginnings from being born into an Asian family and raised in Palo Alto to his getting permission from his mother to focus on basketball instead of playing the piano. The film goes on to show his high school career, and ultimately his struggles to get to the NBA and to stay there. It gives insight into the racism he has at times endured.

Local media began tracking Lin when he played point guard for the Palo Alto Vikings high school team, leading them to a state championship. Coaches, players and sports correspondents considered him a likely candidate for a major university scholarship, but when none materialized, he entered Harvard, playing on the varsity team that went on to the Crimson’s first NCAA tournament since 1946. Although Lin accumulated impressive stats at Harvard, he got passed over again in the 2010 NBA draft.

Accepting an offer to play in the Dallas Mavericks’ summer league, Lin subsequently signed with his hometown Golden State Warriors for the 2010-11 season. Although he’d finally accomplished his lifelong dream of playing in the NBA, he rarely saw game action. As the first American-born NBA player of Taiwanese or Chinese descent, there were whispers that the team had picked him up primarily to capitalize on ticket sales and marketing opportunities with Northern California’s substantial Asian-American population.

When Lin was dropped by the Warriors, the Houston Rockets picked him up, then quickly cut him again. Lin was facing the expiration of his contract when the New York Knicks came calling, putting him into a memorable series of games in February 2012 as a substitute for injured-list point guards.

In his first five career games, Lin scored a record-setting 136 points, including 38 in a single game against Kobe Bryant‘s L.A. Lakers. Fans both old and new instantly responded to the point guard’s historic run, flooding social media platforms with praise and showing up at games with hand-lettered signs or wearing slogan-emblazoned T-shirts. Perhaps the strongest wave of support came from Asian-American fans nationwide who finally had a hero to cheer for and helped launch the Linsanity craze, as well as basketball fanatics all over Asia who responded to both his professional talent and his family heritage.

From promotional spots, endorsements and Facebook tributes to the covers of Sports Illustrated and Time, Lin had the sports world’s undivided attention. And as Leong continued to shoot his documentary, the story suddenly blew up to global proportions.

With a mix of personal interviews – including extensive on-camera discussions with Lin, combined with more informal scenes – home-video footage from Lin’s childhood and clips from his high school and college careers, as well as game-play commentary from ESPN and other broadcasters, Leong has assembled a film that’s not just a stirring sports drama but also a classic immigrant-family success story, presented in an entirely new context. This “Linspectacular” film is a family-friendly documentary that will inspire every viewer. It gives insight into the racism he has at times endured.

We absolutely love the documentary and it’s truly inspiring! Thanks to TAP-NY for hosting this event and special thanks to Taipei Economic and Cultural Office for inviting us. Congratulations to the lovely girl who wore Lin’s #17 Jersey for winning the Jeremy Lin autographed poster.

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