'Linsanity' Premiere Draws NBA Superstar Jeremy Lin, Coach Mike D'Antoni
“I never thought I’d put on a tux and walk down the red carpet with Jeremy Lin,” director Evan Leong said in his opening address at the Los Angeles premiere of his documentary film, Linsanity.
The premiere took place at the newly renovated TCL Chinese Theatre on Thursday night, followed by an after-party at the Roosevelt Hotel. Guests included Lin, Fast and Furious director Justin Lin, NBA coach Mike D’Antoni, OWN journalist Lisa Ling, Hawaii Five-O star Brian Yang, Better Luck Tomorrow star Sung Kang and others.
The film follows the basketball sensation throughout the "Linsanity" craze, during which basketball fans were going nuts for the New York Knicks underdog, who became an overnight success.
One prominent issue the film addresses: his race. The landscape is changing but Asian-Americans are still a minority in the NBA. In the film, Lin claims that his heritage made it difficult to attract attention on the collegiate and later professional level. Today, Lin is hopeful that the NBA is diversifying.
“In general we’re seeing more diversity in the game,” Lin tells The Hollywood Reporter, speaking quietly in an isolated room away from the guests at his party. A man who calls himself camera shy, and is apparently a little reporter-shy as well, continues, “In one small way, my story is a part of that.”
D’Antoni -- Lin’s coach at the Knicks, now the current head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers -- also recognizes how Lin’s prominence in the NBA has changed the face of the game: “He’s broken the barrier -- hopefully it will continue," he tells THR. But D’Antoni also offered a more blunt approach, saying, “If they’re good enough, they’ll find a way to play.”
Another large theme throughout the film is religion. At many points throughout his career, Lin turned to God to get him through his uphill battles. Lin, a man of faith, said in the question-and answer session following the screening, “Linsanity [the phenomenon and now film] was my miracle.”
So what now? After playing for the Knicks, Lin signed with the Houston Rockets. Though it’s been a bit of a tough year, notable for its lack of play time, Lin is still playing for them.
Leong -- who looks to director Lin as a mentor -- is working on another documentary following makeup artist and YouTube sensation Michelle Phan.
One thing's for sure: Filmmaker Leong doesn't have a basketball career to fall back on. When asked if his game gave Lin a run for his money, Leong responded, “Not even close.”