A movie documenting Jeremy Lin’s (林書豪) rise from an obscure Ivy League basketball player to an NBA star with a global following was enthusiastically received at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah on Sunday.
A Los Angeles Times report called Linsanity: The Movie easily “one of the most crowd-pleasing documentaries to play the festival this year.”
The movie, directed by Asian American Evan Jackson Leong (梁伊凡), should be mandatory viewing for high-school athletes, a coach was cited as saying in the report.
In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, Leong said that the movie ends with the Linsanity phenomenon, but Lin’s journey to that stage is what the movie is all about.
“I actually heard about him in Harvard, and at that point, to me, he was already a fascinating story because he already got further than most any Asian American player I’ve ever seen,” Leong said when explaining his decision to film a documentary about a relatively unknown player.
“Even him getting into the NBA was amazing to me. That’s already an inspirational story, it’s a fascinating story,” he said.
“Hopefully [the movie will] inspire the next Jeremy Lin,” he added.
The movie lays out Lin’s story in great detail and “shows the psyche of a man who genuinely struggled — on the court with doubts about his game and off the court with a series of racist taunts he faced as the first Asian American to start in the NBA,” the Los Angeles Times report said.
Lin, the first NBA player of Taiwanese descent, who led Palo Alto High School to a California D-II state championship, was overlooked in the early stages of his basketball career.
He was not given a scholarship by any Pac-10 school after high school and went undrafted by NBA teams after graduating from Harvard.
He signed with Oakland’s Golden State Warriors as a free agent in 2010, but was cut by the Warriors and then the Houston Rockets the following preseason.
The New York Knicks signed him early in the strike-shortened 2011-2012 season and he was on the verge of being released again before his breakout in early February last year.
“How am I supposed to play if everyone is looking at me expecting me to make a miraculous play every time I touch the basketball?” Lin, now a point guard for the Rockets, says at one point in the movie.
The film was one of the last things on Lin’s mind when his career was in jeopardy, but “looking back, I’m really glad we got this, because it just really showed the dream,” he said about the documentary in a separate video clip.
Leong, who noticed Lin four years ago and decided to make a film about him, said after the screening that “it was a project of passion.”
“We had no money. Nobody cared about our project before February of last year. In a documentary like this you don’t know how it’s going to end,” he said.