On Sept. 20, HBO Max announced the development of a documentary detailing the rise of then-New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin. With Lin’s journey to superstardom, the Knicks were able to squeeze into the playoffs as the No.7 seed.
The documentary is set to release Oct. 11, and I, for one, will sign up for HBO Max just for that reason.
“Linsanity” is one of the best types of stories in the world of journalism — the underdog story. It’s a story that describes someone’s journey from obscurity to notoriety.
Sometimes the story takes a while to develop. Other times, it happens overnight.
The story of “Linsanity” is the latter. In February 2012, days before the Knicks threatened to cut Lin and shatter his NBA dreams, Lin rose to fame and beat the odds.
In a seven-game stretch, Lin lit the NBA world on fire and averaged 26.8 points, and scored a total of 136 points — the most in NBA history for a player’s first five starts — and put NBA legend Kobe Bryant on notice when he torched the Los Angeles Lakers with a 38-point performance.
The cultural impact “Linsanity” had on the Asian community in particular was unlike any other.
During “Linsanity,” I remember my eyes were glued to the television. I was far from a Knicks fan, but after hearing Lin’s miraculous story and the fact he was a product of the Bay Area, just like me, gave me more reason to watch.
Ming was born and raised in Shanghai, China and was drafted No. 1 overall by the Rockets. Ming established himself as a low-post presence and became a well-known powerhouse from the get-go. He was an eight-time All-Star and had respect from his peers, such as NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal.
When a reporter asked Bryant if he was following the “Linsanity” story before their Feb. 10, 2012 matchup, Bryant answered, “Who?”
A fact many fail to realize or choose to ignore is Ming is Chinese whereas Lin is Taiwanese — a very big difference. Either out of ignorance or laziness, people would often not understand the significance between the two due to cultural stereotypes.
Each had their own unique impact on the game of basketball. Ming spread popularity of basketball in China and eventually became the Chinese Basketball Association president in 2017, according to Bleacher Report.
Lin inspired Asian Americans in the United States and as Asian American myself, watching “Linsanity” sparked something lost in the game of basketball for me — hope.
The average Asian American is 5’7″. I don’t think it takes a genius to guess why there are so few Asian American basketball players professionally.
To see someone who looked like me playing the highest level of basketball was inspiring and motivating. Most Asian American hoopers will tell you about the basketball stereotypes Asians face on a daily basis.
On the blacktop, from my own personal experiences, I have been on the receiving end of stereotypes consistently. If there was another Asian person playing, the other players would joke and say, “Oh wait, now we don’t know who to pass it to.”
Whenever I would commit a turnover, someone would almost always yell, “Open your eyes, man!” Each stereotype was demoralizing, and I would always ask why minorities were getting tossed around like a punching bag when we were trying to do something we loved.
“Whenever someone looks at you from the outside perspective and sees an Asian American on a Division 1 basketball program, they’re like ‘Oh this guy. Who is this dude?'” Yoon said. “But, I never really minded much about that.”
The “Linsanity” story garners approval on the basketball court now that they know an Asian American made it that far — and that goes a long way.
The story of “Linsanity” is more than another success story.
It’s a cultural phenomenon that changed the course of Asian American basketball, according to Nets Daily. More and more people are inspired by Lin’s story and there has been a rise in the coverage of Asian American athletes in general.
Amazn HQ is a digital sports platform that covers Asian American athletes across the country run by Pranav Iyer. North South Basketball is a tournament highlighting Bay Area hoopers and recently held their annual tournament in San Jose, Calif.
Ten years after “Linsanity,” I’m still in shock and amazed by the feat Lin pulled. For seven straight games, Lin commanded the attention of the basketball world. The top price for a Knicks game ticket during “Linsanity” was about $4,000. The average price before Linsanity was $204.
Everyone wanted to tune in and support the overnight sensation.
The story of Lin taught us the lessons of perseverance, dedication and spawned the next generation of Asian American hoopers.
Thank you, Jeremy Lin, for teaching us what the heart of a champion looked like.
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Contact Jerry Jiang via Twitter ( @j_jiang30 ) or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org