News / Arts & Entertainment

'Linsanity' Details Rise of Asian-American Basketball Star

Houston Rockets' Jeremy Lin (7) drives the ball around Atlanta Hawks' DeMarre Carroll (5) in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game on Nov. 27, 2013, in Houston, Texas.
Houston Rockets' Jeremy Lin (7) drives the ball around Atlanta Hawks' DeMarre Carroll (5) in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game on Nov. 27, 2013, in Houston, Texas.
Heidi Chang
A record 92 foreign players from 39 countries began this season in the professional U.S. basketball league, but none is from Asia.

At the moment, there is only one Asian-American player in the U.S. National Basketball Association (NBA) and his name is Jeremy Lin.

Unlikely journey

A new documentary, Linsanity, follows Lin's unlikely journey to become a breakout NBA star last season.
 
Born and raised in California, Lin has always loved the game and even led his high school basketball team to the state championship. But no college offered him an athletic scholarship.

Lin ended up playing at Harvard, a school known for its academics, where he broke Ivy League basketball records. Still, no NBA team drafted him.

Jeremy Lin, right, playing college basketball for Harvard in an NCAA basketball game in Boston, Dec. 9, 2009.Jeremy Lin, right, playing college basketball for Harvard in an NCAA basketball game in Boston, Dec. 9, 2009.
As Lin struggled to prove he could play in the professional league, a group of Asian-American filmmakers began documenting his rocky start.

Rocky start

"We started this four years ago. You know, as a filmmaking team we went through the same journey that he [Lin] went through," said Evan Jackson Leong, who directed the project. "You know, getting cut. As his downs were going down, we were also going down with our project, because no one really cared about what was going on with our project."
 
Leong kept the cameras rolling during some of Lin's darkest hours, even after the free agent point guard was cut twice from NBA teams. The filmmakers initially planned to create a web series about Lin, never imagining how things would turn out.
 
The documentary captures the story of an underdog trying to break through barriers in a sport where Asian-Americans are extremely rare. 

Breaking barriers

Lin recalls being on the receiving end of racial taunts from spectators and other players early in his career.   
 
"When I was growing up, I was playing in the AAU [amateur] tournaments. We’d be playing games, and a couple times people would be like, 'Yo, take your ass back to China,' or like 'You’re a Chinese import,' or whatever. When I got to college, it just, like, got crazy. 'You Chink, can you even open your eyes? Can you see the scoreboard?' You know, just like crazy stuff."
 
Despite it all, he fought to stay in the game. When the New York Knicks finally gave him a chance to play in 2012, no one expected he would lead his team on such an amazing winning streak, it would spark a global phenomenon known as "Linsanity.”
The Houston Rockets' Jeremy Lin waves to Filipino fans upon arrival on Oct.7, 2013, at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport south of Manila, Philippines, for the first NBA game ever played in the basketball-crazy Southeast Asian nation.The Houston Rockets' Jeremy Lin waves to Filipino fans upon arrival on Oct.7, 2013, at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport south of Manila, Philippines, for the first NBA game ever played in the basketball-crazy Southeast Asian nation.
The film recounts how Lin became an overnight media sensation and also how some members of the media used racial stereotypes and innuendos to describe him.

One ESPN broadcaster commented about Lin, "He’s handled everything very well as you said, unflappable. But if there’s a chink in the armor, where can Lin improve his game?"

Changing perceptions
 
By breaking stereotypes, co-producer Brian Yang said Lin is changing perceptions and helping pave the way for more diversity in the sport.
 
"NBA teams are now giving other Asian-American athletes a second look," Yang said. "I think Jeremy's story has affected the way coaches and recruiters...think and that's important."

In the documentary, Lin credits his faith for guiding him throughout his journey. And that made it especially meaningful for his cousin, Allen Lu, who also helped produce the film.
 
"For me, the thing that I draw a lot from the journey that we’ve been through is that, is like, where do you draw your hope? Where do you draw your strength?," said Lu. "And for Jeremy and myself, and a lot of us here, you know, we’re Christians. And that’s where we draw our strength."
NBA star Jeremy Lin helps a young player during a basketball camp in Beijing, China, Aug. 25, 2013.NBA star Jeremy Lin helps a young player during a basketball camp in Beijing, China, Aug. 25, 2013.
Christopher Chen, another co-producer, was moved by the audience reaction when Linsanity premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

"We had always thought that after Linsanity [premiered], this will hopefully impact the Asian community, the Asian-American community," Chen said. "But what was most impactful to me is when you have middle-aged white women and Latino women, and older black gentlemen, coming up to us, [saying] 'Thank you for telling that story.' That was very inspirational."
 
Now 25, Jeremy Lin continues to inspire children and young people through his charitable foundation. And on the court, he’s now making millions of dollars playing for the Houston Rockets, one of the NBA teams that once cut him from its roster.

You May Like

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Steve Wolf from: California
December 09, 2013 1:05 AM
First, "chink in the armor" is a ubiquitous phrase, and was not meant as a racial slur. Logical people know this, and so when we read the section where it's stated that it was obvious racism, we roll our eyes and the rest of the piece loses credibility. And secondly, the person who commented that Lin made her now feel that "all the talented, beautiful people on TV don't have to be white", my god, there are so many other examples of Asian excellence than a basketball player in a primarily ALL BLACK work environment! Race is constantly being injected into places where it truly isn't the factor it's made out to be, which harms youth, who then pick up the habit, with the subsequent thoughts of "why even try?"

I'm sorry Lin heard a few racial epithets in his early years, but as a white bball player, I heard them non-stop from black people. Lin is not an inspiration to me because he is Chinese, he is because he persevered. BUT thousands if not millions of other white and black bball players did as well, only to disappear. Is that racism? Bad luck? Or ultimately just NOT ENOUGH overall talent to display once the perseverance gets you seen? Everything doesn't have to be racial just because somebody isn't white. And know this: whites experience a tremendous amount of racist actions. I probably have 20 stories for every one of Lin's. That's the dirty secret of this country right now.

Blacks and Mexicans are way more likely to act out with racial bias than whites. And that's why Lin said the taunts started with "Yo". He didn't say the taunters were black. But I will.
In Response

by: Vega from: Los Angeles
December 10, 2013 5:42 PM
Do you even know what you're talking about? You write: "BUT thousands if not millions of other white and black bball players did as well, only to disappear. Is that racism?" Name one. Lin is the first NBA player to score at least 20 points and have seven assists in each of his first five starts. Also, look at the video of the ESPN sportscaster who made that statement - he clearly meant 'chink in the armor' in the pejorative.

by: lei from: Canada
December 05, 2013 2:29 PM
Thanks you VOA for posting this, very inspiring!
In Response

by: Whitman Lam from: Los Angeles
December 06, 2013 1:00 AM
Jeremy Lin is creating opportunities for Asians across the world. And now we have a new found confidence that we are just as interesting, beautiful, and talented as the White people we see on TV.

by: Corky Lee from: NYC
December 05, 2013 7:30 AM
It's important for VOA to finally post this story, kudos to Heidi Chang. However, I not so sure the NBA is giving Asian American players a 2nd look. They like major league baseball are looking directly to Asia for prospects, not the US. Lin does provide a gleamer of hope by keeping hope alive for Asian American kids....
In Response

by: BY from: Los Angeles
December 08, 2013 11:53 PM
Corky, is that you?! Disagreeing with what I said? LOL. It's not a floodgate thing, but it absolutely is an effect of what happened. And maybe not necessarily at the NBA level right away, but D1 colleges, even D2!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the latest edition of "Beyond Category" blues singer and guitarist Corey Harris performs with his band and talks about his travels in West Africa tracing the roots of the blues.