Jeremy Lin conquered Harvard, the NBA and Sundance. But given the "Linsanity" of his past year, these accomplishments shouldn't be surprising.
Lin set off a media frenzy when he became the first Asian-American to start in the NBA. Former MTV News producer Evan Jackson Leong immortalized the ascent in his "Linsanity" documentary. It's a look at how Lin made history and challenged the stereotypes America didn't admit it had. However, the basketball phenom was oblivious to all of it. Lin tells MTV News he was too busy living the dream to read about it.
MTV: Jeremy, congrats on this film. This is a helluva story, and a lot of us know it, but to see it in this format is more powerful, in a way. It's a lot to absorb for an audience. I mean, for me, I can count, in the last couple years, the number of times on one hand that I've had goosebumps while watching a film, but I felt them watching it. Give me a sense of what you go through watching this story of yours.
Lin: I just told Evan [Leong] on the way up here, it's crazy to watch this thing and think, "This all actually happened." I still have to pinch myself. It's crazy. It happens and you go through it, but it's kind of a blur, but when I take a step back and look at it, I think, "Whoa, that was pretty incredible." It was a lot of fun.
MTV: I would think a film like this is kind of a great marker for you. It's this ultimate memento in a way. You went through this, this "Linsanity" at the time, and it's still going on in different ways. But now you have this kind of document that can help with your perspective on what happened. Do you feel like in that moment, in those weeks when all the insanity was happening, it was kind of hard to absorb? And this is helping you to remember it in a different way?
Lin: Yeah, definitely. I did zero absorbing during the process. I was just focused on one game to the next, and trying to not get complacent, and worry about the season and the next opponent. I think now I can start to appreciate everything that really happened. I can take a step back and say, "Wow, this was an incredible thing that happened." And now we have this film that I can always look back on, and I can show it to my kids, and show them all the cool things I got to do in my life during that stretch.
MTV: Seeing the people who pop up in this film, from The Rock to, literally, the President of the United States, again, were you absorbing this at the time? When you saw these talking heads popping up and talking about you in that way — Give me a sense of what it was like to hear the President of the United States talking about you in that way.
Lin: I actually did know, didn't even hear anything until the rough cut of the documentary when I actually realized he had said stuff. So it was crazy. It was crazy to see all the different things, because I don't really watch much TV or read the papers much. So when I saw all the different things, like what Kevin Durant [Oklahoma City Thunder] had said, I just thought, "Whoa, I didn't realize that."
MTV: It also captures that infamous game with the Lakers and, obviously, Kobe [Bryant]'s comment became huge at the time. How are you and Kobe doing today? Have you worked it out, is it all good?
Lin: Everything is all good. We're kind of in this tight play-off push against each other.
MTV:One thing that the film does touch on, which was a dark side to the story, was this undercurrent of racism. Whether it was headlines or allusions, it was almost like people weren't even thinking in the way they were speaking about you at times. Did that register, at the time? Did it shock you, the kinds of things you were hearing? Or was that lost amidst all the great stuff that was happening?
Lin:For me, personally, that was definitely lost because I just didn't care anymore about the racist stuff. I didn't pay attention to it at all. And I didn't even know most of the things that had happened. I had heard about the bigger ones, like the 'Chink in the Armor' headline and stuff like that. But I feel that, for me at this point in my life, I don't really get caught up in that stuff anymore. It's just whatever.
MTV:Last thing for you. Obviously, thanks to your position and your play in the last year plus, you're a role model for people nowadays. And through your efforts to help kids, that's something it sounds like you're embracing, you want to help younger kids. But is there an inherent pressure with that? Do you feel more pressured than ever in terms of being someone that people look up to?
Lin:I love kids, and I love being able to help out in that way. I feel like if I focus on being who I feel like I should be as a person and being a Godly person, everything else should just take care of itself. It doesn't put on any extra pressure. I just want to be as real and authentic as I can, and whatever the impact is, I'll be thankful for it.