I finally got a chance to watch the Linsanity documentary, thanks to MrPingPong, who posted a link to the video in the comments of a previous post. Watching Linsanity brought back a lot of emotions I had when I wrote that very long post: Jeremy Lin Haters and Doubters are Like the Flat Earth People. One of the things the documentary confirmed for me is how crazy it was Lin was able to do what he did, since he didn’t even get a chance to practice much with his teammates. In my write up, I emphasized that point, but seeing the documentary confirmed it even more for me.
I think people disregard this very important point: that Lin really didn’t know any of his teammates when he pulled off Linsanity. He hadn’t had a chance to practice with them and wasn’t familiar with any of the plays. He went out there completely cold and was able to create AMAZING chemistry out of thin air. People don’t realize how hard this is. I mean, it took LeBron, Wade and Bosh a season or so to find good chemistry. On top of this, Lin did it with so much pressure, knowing that he’d get cut if he didn’t play well in the Nets game, so Lin was in a very bad place emotionally, psychologically, physically (not getting a good night’s rest on Landry’s miniature couch) right before the Nets game. That just adds to the magic of the event.
What Jeremy Lin accomplished during Linsanity is perhaps the most amazing sports stories ever. I’m so grateful I’m alive to witness it. I still think people who say it was hyped up are just saying it because they think it’s something that sounds smart to say (i.e., makes them feel like they’re above it all). But it actually wasn’t hyped up, at all. Linsanity was a once-in-a-lifetime story and it was treated exactly the way it should have been with the proper amount of fervor. And those who say it was only because it happened in New York are, again, saying things that they think sounds smart. But they never consider that a phenomenon like Tebowmania didn’t happen in New York. Again, this was a once-in-a-lifetime story and would have been just as big if it happened anywhere else. Okay, maybe Lin would have had 50K fewer followers on Twitter. So what? No one is going to see anything close to Linsanity again in their lifetime, so that’s why there was so much frenzy.
The documentary really drove home how Lin continues to face tremendous obstacles at every turn due to not looking the part. So McHale is just another one of the obstacles that Lin will overcome and he has already overcame it to some degree so far this season. Watching the documentary angers me all over again about the injustice he faced out of high school (although I’m comforted knowing how it all worked out in the end). Not getting drafted when he clearly was the best player in California and led his team to the state championship. Talk about outright racism. I couldn’t imagine the level of frustration I would have if I was Lin or a member of his family or his close friends. I would go out of my mind at how unjust it all is and would take a lot of meditation to get my mind right. Ha ha. And people don’t see comparisons between Jeremy Lin and Jackie Robinson?
Sure the racism against Lin isn’t blatant like with Jackie Robinson. It’s more subtle. You have to read between the lines. But there are definitely similarities between what Lin is doing and what Jackie Robinson did. Of course, Robinson did it during another era when the stakes were much higher, so that’s why the amplitude of what Robinson did was greater. But I think what a lot of Asian people feel for Lin is similar to what blacks must have felt for Robinson. And it is partly why I was motivated to start this blog, since there are so many misperceptions, preconceptions, etc. that rear its ugly head when it comes to Lin. One of my purposes in life is to help people see a little clearer and bring up things that they may not have thought of. And that’s why I wrote that really long post about Jeremy Lin Haters and Doubters. It was unfathomable to me how people could still doubt Lin even after he did what he did during Linsanity. And people are still doubting Lin, thanks to a coach who does everything in his power to not play Lin the way Lin is supposed to be played. Speaking of which, There was one clip from the documentary during one of the Linsanity games in which the commentators said that they’re running one pick and roll after another for Lin. I think they ran like 10 times more PnRs for Lin during that short stretch from Linsanity than during the entire time Lin has been with the Rockets. Lin still hasn’t been played the right way and still manages to put up some good numbers this season so far, again, overcoming yet another obstacle in his way.
Watching those Linsanity clips, I was reminded how well Lin used to finish at the rim and Lin had so many AND-1s during Linsanity. I don’t know what happened to that Jeremy Lin (actually, McHale has a lot to do with it). But Lin, himself, said that he felt like he had an out-of-body experience during the Linsanity stretch, so I’m not sure if that was part of what made him finish so well at the rim with so many different moves to the basket. Of course, being essentially sidelined by McHale may have had a lot to do with him losing that aspect of his game (if in fact he had it before he joined the Rockets).
Here are some things I thought were interesting or new things I learned from the documentary (in no particular order):
- Joe Lacob, the owner of the Golden State Warriors, just happen to buy the team right around the time Lin was in the Summer league and convinced the organization to give Lin a shot, because his son (who’s also a point guard) used to play against Lin back in high school and he saw Lin play back in high school. So that’s one of those lucky coincidences that worked out in Lin’s favor.
- There are lots of clips of Lin finishing with his left–even back in high school–so I’m not sure if that’s the director trying to show us that the whole “Lin can’t go left thing” is overblown. Whether or not this is the director’s aim, I think the whole thing is overblown, because most NBA players favor one side. This whole “Lin can’t go left thing” became a thing, because there wasn’t much to criticize Lin on during Linsanity. a similar phenomenon happened with criticisms on his defense, which I discussed in this video.
- This is something I’ve known, but the documentary serves as a good reminder of how close things came to Linsanity never happening. The fact that he was waved by the Rockets at just the right time when the Knicks needed another guard, because Schumpert went down. And this happened during the weirdest season schedule due to the lockout, which forced the Knicks to go deep into their bench due to a back-to-back-to-back that could have only happened due to a shortened lockout season. If none of this wouldn’t have happened, Knicks may not have given him a second shot after his dismal showing against the Celtics.
- During that Celtics game, the Knicks told Lin to not do too much and Lin listened, which resulted in a very tentative, terrible performance. This is a good reminder for all coaches who coach Lin to just let Lin do his thang. Because the only way Lin plays well is when he’s playing loose and free and aggressive. Attacking the basket and not worrying about turnovers. This is why McHale is the WORST coach for Lin, because he’s more worried about turnovers, etc. and doesn’t appreciate attacking point guards. He just wants them to not do too much and just move the ball. He also causes players to be overly concerned about making mistakes. What I really loved about D’Antoni is that he encouraged Lin to make mistakes. I’m not a big fan of D’Antoni’s coaching, but he’s the only coach in the NBA who has believed in Lin and given Lin the respect that Lin deserves. Hope Lin finds another coach who has just as much of a belief in his game and lets Lin play loose and free and aggressive.
- It was interesting to see how much Lin pays attention to the media–especially that part about Kobe’s comments about not knowing what Lin has done, etc. I guess that one was hard to ignore. But it was interesting how frank Lin is about it. I knew this about Lin, but it was nice to have it confirmed by the documentary about how competitive Lin is. So Kobe’s comments really fired Lin up and also John Wall’s dunk on Lin really fired him up to cross over Wall and dunk on the Wizards. It also reminded me of the game in the summer, where someone dunked on Lin causing him to go on a 43 point tirade. Having that competitive spirit is very important in sports. Combine that with joy and you have a recipe for success.
- This is also something I’ve suspected about Lin, but again, the documentary really confirmed it. Lin is someone who wears his heart on his sleeve. Granted, the things he went through would be trying on anyone, but I think Lin is someone who is really really hard on himself and takes mis-steps to heart and it does plague him during the games. It causes him to lose sleep and I’m reminded of his testimony this summer in which he talked about how tough it was for him with the Rockets in the beginning of the season. I think Lin constantly has to remind himself to play for God and to not pay attention to what the media says, etc. This is something that Lin continues to struggle with, but I think it’s something that he’s getting better and better at now that he’s been through so much.
- There was one scene during the documentary when Lin was in the D-League and one of his teammates asked him if he’s a point guard. Lin responded by saying that he was and all the guy said was to pass the ball to him and just hang back. That was a very revealing clip about how toxic the environment is in the D-League. I’d never given that much thought, so it was definitely something new I learned. In the D-League, everyone is trying to prove themselves. Wins and losses don’t matter. So your teammates aren’t really on your side.
- The other behind-the scenes thing that was great to see was that Lin was actually grateful for the NBA lockout, since it allowed him to work on his game. During those clips, I could really sympathize with Lin’s sense of urgency. Of wishing the lockout could be extended so he can really work on his game. Again, this is another one of those coincidences that worked out in Lin’s favor. I think coming out of Harvard, Lin still had a lot to work on in order to compete at the NBA level. This is another aspect that made what Lin did during Linsanity so magical. He was not quite ready for that level of success. It just happened seemingly out of the blue.
- It was funny to see Lin doing laundry during Linsanity. That’s one thing that’s great about Lin that won’t ever change. He’s very down to earth. It’s also funny to hear his mom telling him and his sister-in-law that the media would go crazy if they found out he was sleeping on the couch and Lin was like, “So what?” I also liked the clips about him going off about how much he loves his Lion King Blanket. He don’t give a f#@k! Ha ha.