For devoted Jeremy Lin enthusiasts, there's a movie hitting theaters next week about their unlikely and inspiring Christian basketball star. And for basketball-disinterested film aficionados, there's a Sundance acclaimed documentary that manages to pull a man away from his myth long enough for us to cherish them both more. This is "Linsanity". And this is awesome.
To most, Jeremy Lin is the man who came out of nowhere to lead the New York Knicks to seven consecutive victories, set NBA records and take the city's front pages by storm in February 2012.
Over time, the details began to trickle out. Lin loved Jesus. He attended Harvard. He was a California native. His parents immigrated to the States from Taiwan. He was the first Asian-American to play in the NBA.
"Linsanity" runs with the cold facts, but offers a warmer picture of a man who claims his piano playing skills are so weak that he once played the same piece three years in a row at his recital (with incriminating video footage to verify this,) who shamelessly adores his "Lion King" blanket, and whose mother giggles about the press making a fuss when they discover Lin is spending the night at his brother's house before a big game.
Part of the movie's charm, in fact, is its ability to balance the different facets of Lin's personality, without bombarding the audience with trivia. Indeed, "Linsanity" spends substantive time exploring Lin's Chinese and Taiwanese heritage, his relationships with his two brothers, and in particular how his faith accompanies and maintains him in each and every up and down of his basketball journey.
With regards to the latter, the filmmakers make it clear that Lin not only sees God as behind his "Linsanity" moment of success, but also finds his presence during the most difficult times in his career; when the Warriors sent him down to the D league, when he was crashing on his teammate's "too-small" couch the night before starting his first NBA game, and in his disappointment after going undrafted.
Throughout the film, Lin reflects on his evolving view of God's "perfect plan," one that he admits looks a bit different than he had initially conceptualized. He's learned that God "gives and takes away," and also that there is nothing in his life that's "not according to His plan."
"Linsanity" is fundamentally not about how Jeremy Lin shocked the world by playing extraordinary basketball in February last year. No, it's about a man who pours himself into his sport and in the midst of racial slurs, perpetually finding his talent overlooked, two professional teams releasing him, and an astonishing and unprecedented month in the NBA, chooses to find God over and over again.