SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
A word that a lot of us sports fans haven't heard in a while: Linsanity. Jeremy Lin's unlikely rise from benchwarmer to basketball phenom hits screens in a new documentary this weekend. NPR's Hansi Lo Wang recently spoke with Lin and some of his fans.
HANSI LO WANG, BYLINE: Twenty months ago Linsanity sounded like this.
(SOUNDBITE OF BASKETBALL GAME)
MIKE BREEN: Lin puts it up, bam, Jeremy Lin from downtown.
WANG: Mike Breen, New York Knicks commentator for the MSG Network couldn't quite hold back his excitement in February of 2012. That's when a high-scoring Asian-American point guard fueled a seven-game winning streak for the Knicks. This was a big deal and if two seasons ago is too far back for you to remember, meet Jenny Yang, a fan from L.A.
JENNY YANG: Jeremy Lin. Try not to blow out the levels on that.
WANG: Jenny, a writer and stand-up comic remembers cheering up during Linsanity.
JENNY YANG: This is the kind of guy that represented so many of us who felt like we were bullied or put down for being Asian.
JEFF YANG: You know, Asian-Americans are constantly being told that there are certain things we can't do.
WANG: Jeff Yang writes for the Wall Street Journal about Asian-American issues.
JEFF YANG: We don't have creativity, we don't have athletics, and I think Jeremy Lin proved that we can all prove them wrong.
GEORGE WU: We're glad to have that kind of figure in the spotlight now, that, you know, it's a reflection of ourselves.
WANG: So, you watch Jeremy Lin play and you kind of think that could have been me.
WU: If I was about five inches taller probably.
WANG: George Wu is a student at Georgetown University's business school. In the midst of Linsanity, he bought the number 17 Knicks jersey of Jeremy Lin.
JEREMY LIN: My life literally changed overnight and probably will never be the same.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
WANG: It was a crazy, short-lived moment in basketball history. Classic underdog story. Rise of a then-23-year-old Asian-American player, graduated from Harvard undrafted, cut from two NBA teams, called off the Knicks bench for a home game against the Nets. He scored and scored again. That night, Lin left Madison Square Garden to a chorus of "Jeremy" by fans and Pearl Jam blaring across the court.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JEREMY")
PEARL JAM: (Singing) Jeremy spoke in class today...
WANG: Twenty months later, Lin plays for the Houston Rockets. Overrated was what critics started calling him after his less-than-stellar first season with his new team. Lin insists it's too early to tell.
LIN: I just turned 25. I really only have a year and a half of experience.
WANG: The new documentary explores Lin's experience as the son of Taiwanese immigrants. Being Asian proved to be a challenge.
LIN: You know, I don't know how big or small of a factor it is, but I can see different things, you know, when people are like, oh, he's not that quick. Or he's deceptively quick or he's deceptively athletic, or - you know, I'm not sure what's deceptive about it. You know, and I've thought about that a lot. You know, is it the way I run or the way I move or the fact that I'm Asian?
WANG: A fact that has given him a loyal Asian-American fan base. That continues to include writer Jenny Yang. She says Linsanity for her was like young love.
JENNY YANG: When you meet someone new, and you're, like, they're amazing. You're all about them. Your, like, stomach gets butterflies, but...
WANG: Eventually that passion fades a bit. She insists, though, the love for Jeremy Lin is still there. Hansi Lo Wang, NPR News.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.