Why Asian Americans Are in Support of Jeremy Lin Joining the Lakers

 

This past weekend, social media exploded with the news that Jeremy Lin was traded from the Houston Rockets to the Los Angeles Lakers. In particular, Asian Americans couldn’t stop talking about it. After all, Lin’s success story hit home with many of us, sports fans and non-sports fans alike.

However, Lin’s trade was met with much debate. Some Laker fans criticized his ability and questioned whether or not his fans were supporting him for the right reasons. We’re gonna clear it up for you: Yes, Asian Americans support Jeremy Lin not only for his skills but also because he succeeded against all odds. He succeeded despite the doubts thrown at him that we, as Asian Americans, face on a daily basis.

We summed it up in our Winter 2013-2014 issue by pointing out that Lin “embodied the hardworking Asian American icon that had been discriminated against and underestimated his entire life and was finally getting his opportunity to show the world what he could really do.”

 

 

 

Furthermore, NBC News points out that the trade was clearly a good decision. Los Angeles is one of the largest Asian American markets and will surely be in support of Lin.

“Lin has a chance to make a huge impact in that town — not by trying to relive ‘Linsanity’ but by being a solid player constantly trying to improve his game,” said University of Michigan Asian/Pacific Islander American History Professor Scott Kurashige to NBC News. “As long as he performs at that level, Asian Americans will undoubtedly rally behind Lin and the Lakers, but he’ll gain the respect of many more beyond that.”

As for Lin, he doesn’t seemed to be phased by all the debate. Three days ago, he posted the following picture.
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“Thank you to Houston fans, media, Rockets staff, coaches and teammates for the last 2 years,” he wrote in his caption. “Sad it never went, or ended, the way I had envisioned it to, but God always has a perfect plan and I’ll forever cherish that chapter of my life. Im SO blessed to join the Lakers and cant wait to get started!!! #purpleandgold #calikid”

 


A Quick Chat With LINSANITY Director Evan Jackson Leong

Story by Ada Tseng.

FIRST IMPRESSION OF JEREMY LIN:
There’ve been a few Asian American players that have come up [in the Bay Area], but none were as good as Jeremy Lin. And he’s not this 7-foot-6 center; he’s a point guard and a leader controlling the game, and you don’t see that all that often. And I remember watching him dunk — he’d do these amazing dunks! So even when we started filming his senior year at Harvard, I already knew it was a great story.

APPROACHING JEREMY ABOUT THE DOCUMENTARY:
He was very quiet and professional at first. We talked about God. What’s funny is — I have a mohawk, but I was wearing a cap to hide it, and at the end, he saw the mohawk peeking out from the back, and he was like “Whoa, you have a mohawk?” And I was like, “Yea, my girl told me to hide it just in case you were really conservative,” and he was like, “No man, that’s cool!” And then he sported a fauxhawk for a little bit after that.

JEREMY’S PERSONAL HOME VIDEOS:
Jeremy’s dad was like that guy from American Beauty, always recording everything. At first he gave us three hours of footage, and that was a lot, but then he gave us 30 hours of footage. [Laughs] We wanted to show a personal side of Jeremy that you don’t usually get to see in the media.

CURRENT PROJECT:
I’m working on a documentary on [YouTube makeup guru] Michelle Phan. They’re both underdogs, both Asian American, and both had strong obstacles to face. Asian Americans in general are often the underdog in the media, and it’s important to get [these stories] out there to inspire a new generation of Asian American kids.

This story was originally published in our Winter 2013-14 issue. Get your copy here

LINSANITY : Not Even A Multimillion Dollar NBA Contract Or A Feature Film Can Change Jeremy Lin

Story by Ada Tseng.

In 2012, basketball star Jeremy Lin lived the ultimate underdog story. As the then-23-year-old rose from obscurity — one minute, he was worried his short-lived NBA career was over, the next minute, he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the headline “Against All Odds” — Lin became more than an international sports hero. He embodied the hardworking Asian American icon that had been discriminated against and underestimated his entire life and was finally getting his opportunity to show the world what he could really do.

While his February 2012 streak caught everyone (including Lin himself) off guard, no one could have been more excited than the film team led by director Evan Jackson Leong, who happened to be shooting a documentary about Lin at the time. Leong had started production on the film back when Lin was a senior at Harvard university. Lin remembers, “I figured, worst case, we’d have someone compile all this footage and make a cool story, and maybe I’ll be able to show it to my kids and my grandkids one day.”

As January 2012 rolled around, Leong was ready to wrap up Lin’s story, but the only thing he was missing was a good ending. Lin not only gave them their ending, he elevated the stakes of the film more than any of them could ever imagine. What was envisioned as a low-key series of webisodes about one of the few Asian Americans in the NBA suddenly included footage of sports journalists bombarding Kobe Bryant with questions about Lin, David Letterman donning a Jeremy Lin jersey on the Late Show, and even President Obama claiming he knew about Lin way back when he was playing at Harvard. Narrated by actor Daniel Dae Kim, Linsanity: The Jeremy Lin Story screened at the Sundance Festival, had a theatrical release in October, and will be out on DVD January 4.

After the whirlwind that was Linsanity whisked Lin from the New York Knicks to the Houston Rockets in July 2012, the attention started to die down. A year later, the 25-year-old has, for the most part, remained out of the headlines, but in Taiwan, the homeland of Lin’s parents, the obsession continues. Giant Linsanity billboards can be seen all over Taipei, and as Linsanity producer Bryan Yang says in a new NBA video about Jeremy Lin fandom in Taiwan: “Linsanity as a phenomenon has not subsided. It’s as if it were February 2012 still. … It’s the Beatles, except modern-day in Taiwan.”

Each summer, Lin travels to Taiwan to teach at a youth basketball camp, as well as to share his testimony of the past year. At 2013’s “Dream Big, Be Yourself” youth conference in Taipei, he confessed that he temporarily lost control of his identity with the unexpected onslaught of fame.

“I talked a lot about the pressures of Linsanity and being caught up in who everyone else wanted me to be,” says Lin. “I addressed three main issues that draw people away from God — money, worldly success and human approval — and how I started to put my identity in basketball. I started to be consumed by the whole Linsanity thing.”

On what helps him keep his head on straight, he says, “I think it’s just constant reminders, going back to the Gospel message and understanding that it doesn’t matter how well I play or what I do on the court; at the end of the day, I’m still a sinner before God, and that’s all that really matters. I need His grace, His love, His forgiveness, and it’s about being diligent, spending time with God every single day and having that support network to keep you accountable.”

But that doesn’t mean Lin doesn’t have time to have fun. On his down time, he and his family and friends collaborate on comedy videos on his YouTube channel, which boasts videos with up to 4.7 million views and have featured everyone from popular YouTube stars KevJumba and Ryan Higa to basketball colleagues Steve Nash and James Harden.

“People can take three minutes and watch a funny video, and it’ll help them laugh and relax, but hopefully every video has a specific message behind it, too,” says Lin. For example, one of his latest videos, “You’ve Changed, Bro,” which spoofs the idea that Lin has let fame go to his head, ends with a passage from Romans 12:2a: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”

And on being considered a new Asian American sex symbol? The 6- foot-2-inch athlete, who has been quoted saying that his perfect girl would be “a faithful Christian” and have “a desire to serve other people [and] help with the underprivileged,” remains modest.

“I appreciate that people see me in that way, but it’s kind of something that I brush to the side,” he says. “I don’t think that’s ever been one of my goals or one of my focuses, but I’m still thankful that they see me in whatever light that they see me in.”

This story was originally published in our Winter 2013-14 issue. Get your copy here

Linsanity: Coming to a Theatre Near You

Although many of us may have gone linsane back in 2012 when third-string guard, end of the bench player, Jeremy Lin became a new sensation, many fans and even sports professionals did not know much about him. Director Evan Jackson Leong and his crew began documenting Lin’s journey in basketball way before all the hype of Linsanity pushed him to stardom. This film follows his high school days where he led his team to a state championship, but was not recruited by any college scouts, to his time at Harvard, and finally to his NBA career with the Golden State Warriors, the New York Knicks, and now the Houston Rockets.

jlin copyThe movie allows the audience to get to know Lin on a more personal level. From the interviews to home-video footage of his childhood, we get to see Lin’s core values of faith and family and how they have shaped his personality and career. The film was released late January to various film festivals such as Sundance, SXSW. Hong Kong International, Asian American International, and CAAMFest. Ketchup Entertainment has acquired the rights to the documentary and it is now scheduled to premiere in over a dozen major cities, including Los Angeles, New York, Boston, and San Francisco on October 4.

LINSANITY LARGE SCREENER POSTERThis isn’t just a sports documentary, it’s a story of how one hard working humble man not only battled it out on the court, but also battled inherent and overt racism as an Asian-American player. Leong’s work and Lin’s story definitely makes for a captivating film for both sports and non-sports fans.