Is 'Linsanity' Still Worth Celebrating?

Kevin DingNBA Senior WriterFebruary 7, 2013

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 26:  Jeremy Lin #7 of the Houston Rockets celebrates a play on the court during the game against the Brooklyn Nets at Toyota Center on January 26, 2013 in Houston, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

“Linsanity” was definitely something worth celebrating.

Is it still?

Here’s one cynical way to look at it: An event’s time has truly passed when you need an anniversary to get you to think about it again.

Here’s the reality: The event was something worth celebrating if people are looking to savor it all over again, and “Linsanity” is absolutely that.

Despite many of you readers assuming I’m some Jeremy Lin hater based on my column last month about Lin needing to improve his jumper—very few embraced Lin’s dramatic rise with the Knicks a year ago as I did.

That’s because very few Asian-American writers cover the NBA full time. So for me, it was uniquely fascinating how assumptions were challenged and stereotypes were shredded, both in basketball and society at large.

I wrote a piece in the Orange County Register about the “Linsanity” mania through the inspired eyes of my cousin’s son, an aspiring basketball player in eighth grade and Taiwanese-American just like Lin.

I went on various national shows to analyze it and try to explain some of the broad ramifications from the Asian-American perspective. And I also talked at length privately with my friends and family about all those exciting changes—surely the same way Ivy Leaguers or devout Christians did in their own all-fired-up inner circles.

One of those friends I talked to was Christopher Chen, who wound up producing “Linsanity: The Movie”—yet another way for the wonderment to carry on in the future. The movie just screened at the Sundance Film Festival, and the Hollywood Reporter raved about it, saying: “A sports doc with abundant heart persuasively chronicles the emergence of a global phenomenon.”

The next step for the movie will be to move on to a larger stage, allowing “Linsanity” to be devoured by the masses anew.

But to get back to the central issue of the phenomenon still being worth celebrating, I sought to gauge the staying power of the inspiration itself—and checked back in with my cousin’s son, Justin Wu, who had told me last year how he used to wonder if he’d be passed over during his AAU tryouts because of his ethnicity.

The focus on Lin has obviously faded, in part because he has moved from New York to Houston, and because our own style of focus always leads us to move on to the next big thing. So what is different between now and then? Just walking around his predominantly Asian-American high school in Irvine, Calif., Justin sees it.

“A lot of Asian people who didn’t really even like basketball, you now see them walking around school with Jeremy Lin shirts on,” Justin said. “It’s nice to have someone to be a role model.”

Justin’s belief is that people in this country have become “more open-minded” since Lin’s emergence—particularly in regions away from Southern California with its established Asian-American population.

“I think he’s still really inspirational,” Justin said.

Lin hit 5-of-8 three-pointers Tuesday (Feb. 5) and has hiked his fledgling three-point percentage to 31 percent; it has been a learning season with a lot of turnovers and periodic benchings.

Still, he is a player to watch the rest of this season.

Although Lin shares the ball handling with James Harden at times, the Rockets are increasingly playing the Mike D’Antoni-style, guard-driven, quick-trigger offense that got the “Linsanity” engine roaring last year.

That means more opportunities for Lin to remind everyone of last year’s magic in the very best and most authentic way:

By making more.

Kevin Ding has been a sportswriter covering the NBA and Los Angeles Lakers for since 1999. His column on Kobe Bryant and LeBron James was judged the No. 1 column of 2011 by the Pro Basketball Writers Association. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

Follow Kevin on Twitter @KevinDing.