When it happened in the spring of 2012, the Jeremy Lin phenomenon – commonly referred to as “Linsanity,” from which the new documentary takes its name – was startling for its prevalence.
As Evan Leong’s new film shows, the excitement in New York was infectious. It spread worldwide – particularly in Asia, but also Europe and other places. Part of it was that Lin was the first American-born Asian player to crack an NBA starting lineup. Most of it, however, was that Lin came out of nowhere and lit up the entire NBA, on a New York Knicks team that had been left for dead despite the signing of both Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudamire.
For about a month, Lin was all that anyone in New York could talk about: the lanky Harvard graduate who played point guard like he was born to it, burning Kobe Bryant, among others, in a string of victories that saw him responsible for last-minute heroics and for keeping the team in the game at all.
Leong had been following Lin since he was a star at Harvard. He had access to Lin’s parents and brothers, who gave him old home videos of tiny Jeremy playing in rec leagues and then on AAU teams. Undoubtedly, Leong was looking at this as a chance to examine the expanding role of Asian-Americans in all fields – in this case, professional sports.
But, until Lin’s breakthrough with the Knicks, it looked like Leong would end up with a more wistful, sobering tale. Until Lin came to New York, he hadn’t found his groove in the pro game and seemed destined to be a footnote.
This review continues on my website.