Chinese-American basketball star goes undrafted out of Harvard (not exactly a hoops hotbed), is cut by two NBA teams, sent down to the D-League, then lands with the Knicks. Right before he's about to be cut again, he is called into action, and -- Linsanity! Which is the title and the subject of Evan Jackson Leong's documentary, opening Friday in Manhattan before a wider run, that's centered around those glorious days in February 2012, when Jeremy Lin led the Knicks on a winning streak and became the toast of the NBA.
"I wanted to make a legacy film, to be able to go back and experience what we all experienced in February 2012, and to tell of Jeremy's journey, and what got him up to that point," says Leong.
A lot of that story deals with Lin's tenacity in the face of almost unanimous skepticism. The stereotype of Chinese-Americans is scholars, not athletes, so Lin was breaking all sorts of preconceived notions -- and becoming a major inspiration in the process.
"Asian-Americans don't really have role models of that kind that we can look up to," says Leong. "Jeremy did it in the biggest way possible. It's not just a story about basketball, it transcends sports and culture; you can follow your dreams and actually achieve. For Asian-Americans, that's a huge thing."
"Linsanity" is just the latest in a long line of cinematic hoops sagas. Here are a few more.
DRIVE, HE SAID (1971) Jack Nicholson directed this film about a college hoops star, with Bruce Dern as an intense coach.
ONE ON ONE (1977) High-school star Robbie Benson finds that making it at a big school is tougher than he imagined.
HOOSIERS (1986) The true tale of Indiana's Milan High basketball team, giant killers.
WHITE MEN CAN'T JUMP (1992) Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes star as trash-talking basketball hustlers.
THE AIR UP THERE (1994) College coach Kevin Bacon goes to Africa, looking for talent.
HOOP DREAMS (1994) Stirring documentary about two Chicago high schoolers trying to become college basketball players.
LOVE AND BASKETBALL (2000) Great boy-girl romance centered around a hoops rivalry.
GLORY ROAD (2006) True story of the Texas Western basketball team, first all-black NCAA Tournament champion.