Chen, one of the producers of Linsanity, lived out just such a situation. The grandson of a famous Chinese evangelist, Moses Chow, Chen was born to parents who had immigrated from China to Taiwan to the East Bay area of Northern California. He grew up attending an evangelical church that conducted services in both Chinese and English.
All along, as a basketball fan, Chen had followed Lin’s career, from high school in Palo Alto to Harvard. Once Lin made it to the NBA and consented to be the subject of a documentary, Chen and the film’s director, Evan Jackson Leong (梁伊凡), faced a decision about how to treat the issue of faith.
“We talked about that from Day One,” said Chen, 37. “Even during our initial lunch meeting, Jeremy’s parents asked, ‘How do you want to handle the religion part?’ I said then what I say now, which is that you can’t tell Jeremy’s story without addressing his faith. It’s really cornerstone. You can’t ignore it or just brush it aside.”
Leong, 34, approached Linsanity from two directions. He was a lifelong basketball player himself and he had plunged deeply into the subject of Christianity in Asia as the director of a 2010 film about it, 1040.
“If Jeremy Lin was a devout Buddhist, we’d have to put that in the documentary,” Leong said in a recent interview after a pickup game in New York. “But because he’s Christian, people think they know it already. They’ve got this attitude of ‘don’t preach to me.’ But if it’s good material, it’s good material.”
While he did not grow up in a religious home, Leong has increasingly explored Christianity in his personal as well as his professional life. So Lin’s unlikely ascent to stardom — not recruited to a major college, not drafted by an NBA team, cut twice in the same season — spoke to him.
“You can do everything you possibly can to perfect your game, and train all you can, but there’s still an X factor about who makes it,” he said.