Column: Linsanity, not just a basketball phenomenon

Ashton Chow

While former basketball sensation Jeremy Lin is not currently spinning around and performing 180-degree dunks anymore, his legacy will continue to last as a symbol of the longstanding notion that despite having all odds against you, anything is possible.

Back in 2013, when I was seven years old, my mom insisted that we watch the “Linsanity” documentary film about the famously undrafted rookie from the Bay Area. He graduated from Palo Alto High School and went on to play at Harvard University. When I recently learned about Frank Chi’s new documentary, “38 at the Garden,”  I thought it was just another short film about Lin’s unique story in the NBA, which I had heard countless times. 

However, I was still excited to watch it because I’ll admit, I am a little biased that Lin is a Palo Alto legend and he grew up only a block away from my grandparents.

I was also eager to see someone of Asian-American descent just like me.

“38” in the garden is Frank Chi’s new documentary on basketball sensation Jeremy Lin’s “Linsanity” period. It primarily speaks about Lin’s growth in his career, but hits close to home with a vibrant representation for Asian Americans. (Photo: “38 at the Garden”)

As I sat there watching Lin dribble the ball between his legs as he brought it up the court, I realized just how influential of a player he was. The crowd in Toronto is electric as the game remained tied in the fourth quarter. In the last minutes, Lin waves off his teammates to create an isolation play.

He wants the one-on-one with his defender. The clock ticks down. 4… 3… 2…  Lin steps back and puts up a three-point shot. Swish! The ball goes perfectly through the net. The crowd erupts in a deafening roar. Even fans from the opposing team are excited and screaming. This is one of many iconic moments during Lin’s basketball career, which started in 2010, are depicted in “38 at the Garden.”

“38 at the Garden” is available on HBO Max and Hulu. It is rated TV-14 and has a run time of 38 minutes. The film was released On the 10-year anniversary of Lin’s “Linsanity” 2012 craze that began at Madison Square Garden when he played for the New York Knicks.

From a young age, many Asian kids, like myself, are told by their parents to get straight A’s, work hard, and don’t make trouble. Asian American parents aren’t telling their kids to grow up and become professional athletes. These parents hope their kids pursue professions like doctors or engineers. Professions that are viewed as respectful and give their children the best chance to achieve success.

The film portrays the symbol of Lin breaking free from that stereotype excellently.

For me, the most impactful part is when the movie addresses the recent spike in hate crimes. From the early days of the pandemic, hate crimes against Asians rose as COVID was linked to China. 

As a result, Asian Americans were targeted as being responsible for the death and despair the world has experienced in these last couple of years. In the documentary, Lin expresses sentiments of the subhuman treatment that many Asian American people faced and how he as an individual has tackled that.

It shows old news clips of past hate crimes and how common they were.  Lin was a target of racial slurs during his time in the NBA. The other reporters who were interviewed also give their personal experiences of being targeted because of their race. 

Seeing members of the Asian American community physically and verbally assaulted made it scary going to public places. It put a lot of stress on my mom and grandparents. Lin’s story is a wake-up call for Asian Americans everywhere, shedding more light onto our community’s challenges and struggles—ones that at times can be underrepresented.

For fans of the Palo Alto sensation, “38 at the Garden” is a must-see, both for its depiction of Asian Americans and representation. This short film packs a big message that can apply to all humans, regardless of skin color; at the end of the day, if you persevere through adversity, you can do amazing things.  “38 at the Garden” is uplifting, inspiring and so much more.  It touches on the impact that “Linsanity” had on the Asian American community and is a wonderful depiction of Lin’s achievements that will inspire others for generations.