“Linsanity” is coming to Seattle, but it’s not what you think. Jeremy Lin is not moving to the Pacific Northwest. And no, we’re not getting the NBA back, either.
After premiering at the Sundance Film Festival and moving through the festival circuit, the feature documentary “Linsanity,“ gets its theatrical release in October — including a Seattle premiere on Oct. 11 at Alderwood Mall 16.
Evan Jackson Leong’s 88-minute movie pays homage to Lin’s life story and the cultural phenomenon known as “Linsanity” that took over the basketball world in 2012.
Lin, the unnoticed and undrafted point guard out of Harvard, is the second Asian American to play in the NBA. Yao Ming isn’t mentioned here because he is from China, and Lin’s experience growing up in Palo Alto, Calif. as an Asian American is fundamentally different than a player like Ming who immigrated to the U.S. to play in the NBA.
Wat Misaka was the first Asian American to accomplish the feat of playing in the NBA. The Utah native played three games for the New York Knicks before being cut from the team in 1948.
Like Misaka, Lin made an NBA roster, but unlike the 5-foot, 7-inch Japanese American guard, the 6-foot, 3-inch Lin dominated the league by averaging 18 points, eight assists and two steals through his first 25 games with the New York Knicks. In February 2012, the world was swept up by Lin’s story, and the buzzword “Linsanity” was born to capture Lin’s rise from basketball nobody to NBA star in February 2012. That sumer, Lin signed a three-year $25 million contract with Houston and played all 82 regular season games as the Rockets starting point guard.
The media craze over “Linsanity” catapulted Lin to grace the covers of Time Magazine and Sports Illustrated. He also became the first Asian American to be featured on the cover of GQ Magazine. This “large-than-life” image of Lin helped counter the negative stereotypes of Asian American men in Hollywood and the media. We’re nerdy, un-athletic and unable to speak English. “Linsanity” helped squash those myths. And because of Lin’s success, a new generation of Asian American boys are able to dream more broadly. Do you want to become a doctor? How about play in the NBA? The latter doesn’t require the leap of imagination it once did for Asian American kids. They can now turn on ESPN and see their dream personified in real time. Lin is a concrete icon they can identify with. Every kid handling a basketball, at one point or another, fantasizes about being Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant or LeBron James and hitting the winning shot at the buzzer. With Lin, they can reenact those moments with a face and persona that more closely resembles their own.
“Linsanity” received a closing night standing ovation at Sundance, the premier showcase for U.S. and international independent film. The last Asian American movie that made this much noise was on the film festival circuit was in 2003 when Justin Lin’s “Better Luck Tomorrow” partnered with MTV Films for their theatrical release.
Fast forward 10 years and we find ourselves at another cornerstone of Asian American history. This time, the story isn’t a fictional drama about a group of overachieving high school students dipping into extracurricular criminal activities. Instead, It’s a biography of an incredibly talented basketball player who inspired the world and helped change this country’s image of Asian America — especially Asian American men.
When “Linsanity” comes to Seattle, I expect to see the Asian Pacific Islander community come out in droves, because ultimately, Jeremy Lin is as much of an icon for the Asian American community as Barack Obama is for the Black community. What Lin accomplished in the NBA — playing ball and holding his own on the world’s biggest basketball stage with arguably the greatest athletes in the world — is a feat that is as unique and awe-inspiring as Obama’s path to the White House.
So come out on Oct. 11th, rally everyone you know to the movies, celebrate the improbable success of Jeremy Lin, and revel in the glory of “Linsanity.”
“Linsanity” is screening at AMC Loews Alderwood Mall 16 from Oct.11 to Oct. 17. Showtimes: 10:00 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 3:00 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 8:00 p.m., 10:30 p.m.