First there was Shawne Williams. Then Jeremy Lin came along, further setting the stage for the likes of Chris Copeland, and this season, perhaps a guard like Toure Murry.
There's no doubt that everyone (especially the basketball fans of the Big Apple) can appreciate and favor the underdog story. Players going through such journeys resonate with all of us, but perhaps no such journey was as filled with as much excitement, anticipation, and exhilaration as Lin's.
The Jeremy Lin story is unlike no other. His rapid rise to national fame, as well as his emergence from utter obscurity, took the entire world (literally) by storm. There's no other way to describe it.
Not one to bask in all the glory of massive publicity, the point guard may not be the first person one pictures when thinking of a movie star. That is, until Linsanity was born (not the nickname, but rather, the movie itself).
Released earlier this month, Linsanity provides fans with an inside look at Lin's life before, during, and after, his big break with the Knickerbockers. For anyone living under a rock during that period, the movie proves to be a nice summary of events from start to finish. For any casual NBA fan and/or passionate Knicks fan, such highlights and the story around each individual game throughout never fails to provide the initial chills and feel- good moments from the entire process.
Lin's first game as a Knick was actually against his former (and hometown) team, the Golden State Warriors. But it wasn't there that he got his big break. Seemingly not one to shy away from a challenge throughout his time in New York, the guard rose up off the bench to lead New York to a come from behind victory against Deron Williams and the Nets. Things looked bleak, but 25 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists later from Lin, a victory was theirs.
The crowd was roaring like never before during an otherwise meaningless February matchup. Mike Breen and Walt "Clyde" Frazier were in utter disbelief on television, having been taken along for the wild ride with all the team's fans who watched.
From there of course, the Linsanity only continued and the movie proceeds to take fans on a game by game journey of the way Lin's life changed in a matter of weeks. Included in such a run was Lin's career-high 38 point performance (he outscored Kobe Bryant and led the Knicks to another win), a double-double performance of 28 points and 14 assists against the then-defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks (another win for the Knicks), and a 90-87 win over the Raptors, during which Lin scored 27 points and hit the game-winning three point dagger.
In many respects, the win over Toronto proved to be a very good indicator of why Lin's journey was so exciting in the first place. In a season during which Knicks fans didn't have much else to root for, the point guard provided everyone (his team, especially) with more than just a mere glimmer of hope. Most of the team's other key players were sidelined with injuries, and thus, Lin took such time as an opportunity to rise up as a star.
In looking back at his journey and rise to fame, the film also highlights a rivalry of sorts that Lin had with former number one draft selection John Wall. The year prior to Linsanity, the two guards went at it in Las Vegas during NBA Summer League, where Lin was hoping to catch on as a member of the Dallas Mavericks. Looking back, the former Knick did more than hold his own. In fact, he seemingly frustrated Wall throughout the game. As his 23 point and 10 assist game against the Wizards during Linsanity suggested, Lin got the last laugh over a year later yet again.
His continued eye-popping performances, night in and night out, were truly unbelievable. Lin was (or is) an overnight star. The film manages to take viewers along for the ride, as if the whole world wasn't there watching when it actually happened. For any Knicks fan appreciative of Lin's stint in orange and blue, it's fun reliving such success over the hour and a half.
Of course, there are some elements of humor and fun tid-bits throughout as well. From commentary from former Knicks' coach Mike D'Antoni (and Lin's recount of an interaction between the two where the coach told him it probably wasn't necessary for the guard to ship his car to New York), to footage of Landry Fields and the couch Lin slept on the night before his big break, the well done documentary is packed with cool looks back at his journey.
Prior to hitting it big, Lin was also stopped by MSG security upon trying to go inside for a game. Such an occurrence is a reminder of how utterly unknown and unrecognizable Lin really was as an NBA player.
Quite the high school basketball star, the film also focuses on Lin's success there and talks to those around him who thought he would or would not go on to achieve such greatness. In also highlighting his family life, it's rather surreal to watch Lin talk about his life and journey years before his big break ever came. The way the camera follows him around from place to place almost makes you feel as though everyone knew Linsanity would happen.
But really, who could have ever hoped, guessed, or predicted anything quite like it? The real answer to such a question is simple: nobody. Perhaps that's what makes Lin's story truly remarkable.
The movie does a very solid job of recounting such an experience, for both fans and Lin alike.