UNDERESTIMATED OVER STEREOTYPES

Encore: December 21, 2022

HBO CHRONICLES LINSANITY IN “38 AT THE GARDEN” SHOWING HOW NBA PLAYER JEREMY LIN SHOCKED THE NATION & BECAME A HERO FOR ASIAN AMERICANS

Now streaming on HBO Max, 38 AT THE GARDEN chronicles the extraordinary ascendance of point guard Jeremy Lin during his landmark 2012 season with the New York Knicks. Lin, an undrafted Harvard graduate, shocked fans, stunned his teammates and galvanized Asians around the world when he scored 38 points at Madison Square Garden against the Los Angeles Lakers, solidifying Lin’s hot streak and the “Linsanity” craze. A decade later, Lin’s stature as a groundbreaking, cultural icon stands in stark relief to the recent hate crimes against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. 38 AT THE GARDEN recognizes a pivotal moment in time for Lin and celebrates a phenomenon that was bigger than basketball for the world. 38 AT THE GARDEN director Frank Chi joins us. 

Aired on November 2, 2022

TRANSCRIPT

GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

THE KNICKS.

OVER THE PAST 20 YEARS, THE TEAM HAS GIVEN NEW YORK SPORTS FANS FEW REASONS TO CELEBRATE.

HOWEVER, IN 2012, FOR A FEW BRIEF WEEKS, NEW YORKERS AND BASKETBALL FANS ACROSS THE WORLD HAD THE CHANCE TO EXPERIENCE ONE OF THE MOST EXCITING AND IMPROBABLE STRETCHES IN THE HISTORY OF SPORTS, LINSANITY.

AT THE TIME, JEREMY LIN WAS AN UNKNOWN, UNDRAFTED ASIAN HARVARD GRADUATE WHO WORKED HIS WAY INTO THE STARTING LINEUP OF THE KNICKS AND STARTED LEADING THE TEAM IN SCORING AND MORE IMPORTANTLY TO VICTORIES.

THOUGH LINSANITY WAS SHORT, IT INSPIRED MANY TO DREAM.

NOW A NEW DOCUMENTARY IS OUT ON HBO MAX AND TELLS THE STORY OF LINSANITY AND THE IMPACT ON ASIAN AMERICANS.

HERE IS A PREVIEW.

THIS CANNOT BE HAPPENING.

I THINK IT BLEW ALL OF OUR MINDS WE WOULD SEE SOMEONE THAT LOOKED LIKE MY COUSIN ON AN NBA COURT.

IT'S THE MOST IMPOSSIBLE THING I HAVE WITNESSED IN MY LIFE.

WHEN MOST AMERICANS THINK ABOUT ASIANS, THEY THINK ABOUT DRY CLEANERS, I.T. GUYS.

THE STEREOTYPING, THE DERISION IS SO RAMPANT.

YOU DON'T THINK NO ASIAN KID THIS SIZE WILL BE DUNKING.

THIS IS WHO I AM.

WATCH AND SEE.

THIS KID CAME OUT OF NOWHERE.

STARTED BALLING FOR REAL.

IT WASN'T JUST ASIAN PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT IT.

EVERYBODY WAS TALKING ABOUT IT.

IDEA THAT WE ARE GOING TO END THIS FAIRYTALE AND END IT TONIGHT.

JEREMY KEPT MAKING SHOTS.

HE GAVE ALL OF Y'ALL WHAT YOU WANTED TO SEE.

IS THIS THE OTHER PLOT OF 'SPACE JAM'?

THIS DUDE SCORED 38 POINTS.

AT THE GARDEN.

THE BIGGEST THING THAT HE BROUGHT WAS HOPE.

IT INSPIRED PEOPLE.

THE LAST FEW YEARS, ASIAN AMERICANS HAVE GOTTEN BEATEN DOWN.

WHEN I THINK BACK ON LINSANITY, I LONG TO FEEL THOSE MOMENTS OF JUST PURE JOY AND UNITY.

THIS MOMENT, IT BROKE THE MATRIX FOR US.

JOINING ME TO DISCUSS THIS NEW FILM IS FRANK CHI.

FRANK IS THE DIRECTOR OF '38 AT THE GARDEN.'

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

THANK YOU.

IT'S GREAT TO BE HERE.

FOR ANYONE WHO MIGHT NOT REMEMBER THE PHENOMENON THAT WAS -- IF YOU DON'T REMEMBER, YOU CLEARLY ARE NOT A KNICKS FAN.

IT WAS ACTUALLY, AS JEREMY DESCRIBES, A PERFECT FORM, IF YOU WILL.

BECAUSE THE KNICKS WERE DOING THEIR STRUGGLE THING.

JEREMY WAS AT A CRITICAL JUNCTURE IN HIS CAREER.

WHAT WERE THE PERFECT FORCES THAT CAME TOGETHER?

A LOT OF IT WAS THE KNICKS BEING VERY INJURY PRONE THAT YEAR.

RIGHT?

JEREMY WAS DEEP IN THE BENCH.

HE WAS A POINT GUARD, BUT THERE WERE I THINK THREE POINT GUARDS IN FRONT OF HIM.

I THINK IT WAS DAVIS GOT HURT.

THEY NEEDED A POINT GUARD.

ASIAN AMERICANS CAN RELATE TO THAT STORY SO HARD BECAUSE IT WAS -- WE HAVE THIS WALL OF STEREOTYPES THAT SURROUND US.

EVERYBODY IS LOOKING FOR AN OPPORTUNITY TO BREAK IT OR TO HAVE A CHANCE TO SHOW THAT YOU ARE BIGGER THAN THAT.

THOSE INJURIES I THINK REALLY -- IT WAS UNFORTUNATE THAT THEY HAPPENED.

FOR JEREMY, IT SAID TO THE COACH, YOU KNOW WHAT, SINCE WE'RE SO DOWN ON OUR LUCK HERE, LET'S GO AHEAD AND PUT THE ASIAN KID INTO THE GAME.

WE ARE LOOKING FOR THAT OPPORTUNITY TO SHOW THAT WE ARE GOOD AT WHAT WE LOVE TO DO.

HE CHECKED INTO THE GAME.

HE SCORED 25 POINTS.

AFTERWARDS, HE THOUGHT HE WOULD BE CUT FROM THE TEAM.

WE UNDERSCORE IN THE MOVIE.

HE SCORED 25 POINTS.

THAT'S THE FIRST OF THE TWO-WEEK STRETCH OF LINSANITY.

ONE OF THE THINGS YOU MENTIONED IS -- THE FILM DOES FOCUS ON JEREMY'S IMPACT BUT AN EXPERIENCE AS ONE OF THE FEW ASIAN PLAYERS IN THE NBA, AMERICAN OR NOT.

ONE OF THE THINGS THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE THINK ABOUT SPORTS IS THAT IT'S A UNIFIER.

IT'S ABOUT STATS AND AVERAGES.

JEREMY WAS A STANDOUT PLAYER IN CALIFORNIA WHEN HE WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL.

HE ATTENDED HARVARD, WHICH FOR PEOPLE -- IT'S AN ACADEMIC SCHOOL, BUT IT'S A DIVISION I SCHOOL.

HE WAS A STANDOUT PLAYER AND SET RECORDS FOR HARVARD'S BASKETBALL TEAM.

WHEN IT CAME TO THE NBA DRAFT, IT SE SEEMS AS IF TEAMS WERE LIKE --

EVERY SINGLE THING THAT HAPPENED IN HIS CAREER LEADING UP TO CHECKING INTO THE KNICKS GAME, FIT THIS PATTERN.

HOW COULD YOU BE CALIFORNIA PLAYER OF THE YEAR, WIN THE CALIFORNIA STATE CHAMPIONSHIP AND GET ZERO RECRUITMENT OFFERS?

HOW COULD YOU BE IVY LEAGUE, 18 POINTS A GAME AND IN HIS WORDS, KILLED IT AT THE TRYOUTS BEFORE THE DRAFT, AND NOT EVEN GET A WHIFF OF INTEREST?

THE ONLY REASON WHY HE BROKE INTO THE LEAGUE IS BECAUSE THE MAN WHO BOUGHT THE WARRIORS AT THE TIME HAD SEEN JEREMY PLAY WHEN HE WAS GROWING UP.

HE PLAYED AGAINST HIS SON IN HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL.

HE WAS LOOKING AT HIM THROUGH STEREOTYPES.

IT TOOK SOMETHING -- IT SOUNDS UNBELIEVABLE.

IT SOUNDS LIKE A FLUKE.

FOR SO MANY OF THESE INCREDIBLE STORIES, SOMEONE IS TRYING TO PROVE THEIR WORTH, THEIR VALUE BEYOND WHAT STEREOTYPES DEFINE US AS.

IT TAKES A MOMENT LIKE THAT.

WE COVER THAT IN THE MOVIE AS WELL.

IT WAS THIS PATTERN.

IF YOU READ THE PRE-DRAFT NOTES, THEY -- HE IS A CONFIDENT PLAYER.

HE DEMANDS THE BALL.

THESE DRAFT NOTES ARE LIKE, LACKS CONFIDENCE, CONSTANTLY PASSING THE BALL.

IF YOU SAW HIM PLAY, YOU KNOW HE ISN'T THIS.

SOMEBODY WRITING DOWN ASIAN STEREOTYPES ON THE PAGE.

I THINK THAT'S THE CHALLENGE THAT HE WENT THROUGH.

FOR ASIAN AMERICANS AS A COMMUNITY, WE SAW HIM ALMOST AS A SYMBOL OF OUR STRUGGLES.

WHEN HE NOT ONLY THROUGH THAT GAME BUT WHERE HE SCORED 38 POINTS AT THE GARDEN AND DID IT ON ESPN, IN FRONT OF THE WORLD, WE HAD THIS CATHARTIC REACTION TO SEEING OUR OWN STEREOTYPES IN OUR OWN LIVES FALL DOWN.

IF ONLY FOR A LITTLE BIT.

THAT'S ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT POINTS WE MAKE IN THE MOVIE AND WHY WE WANTED TO RE-EVALUATE AND EXPLORE THIS AGAIN ON THE TEN-YEAR ANNIVERSARY, WHICH IS TO SAY, OUT OF THOSE STEREOTYPES THAT WE HAVE BEEN ANNOYED AT OUR WHOLE LIVES BECAUSE THEY FOLLOWED US AROUND, IN THE PAST COUPLE YEARS, THEY HAVE BEEN WEAPONIZED.

WHEN THEY ARE WEAPONIZED, THEY TURN INTO ANTI-ASIAN VIOLENCE.

THAT'S AN IMPORTANT PIECE OF THE STORY AND WHY WE CHOSE TO RE-VISIT IT ON THE TEN-YEAR ANNIVERSARY.

WE SAY TO PEOPLE INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT, WHAT IS IT LIKE TO RE-VISIT OUR FAVORITE ASIAN AMERICAN HISTORY DURING THE WORST TIME IN HISTORY?

THAT'S WHAT THIS FEELS LIKE.

THAT'S THE WAY JEREMY DESCRIBES IT.

IT'S IMPORTANT FOR US TO HAVE THAT CONVERSATION ABOUT STEREOTYPES, WHAT IT MEANS WHEN SOMEONE SHATTERS THOSE AND TODAY WHEN THEY HAVE BEEN WEAPONIZED.

IF WE CAN DO THAT, WE HAVE ACHIEVED THE GOAL OF THE MOVIE, TO SPARK CONVERSATION.

SPEAKING OF THE STEREOTYPES, ONE OF THE INSTANCES THAT SEEMED TO BE THE MOST GALVANIZING FOR FANS WHO WERE FOLLOWING LINSANITY AND JEREMY'S SORT OF RISE AND EXPLOSION IN THE NBA WASN'T EVEN THE 38 AT THE GARDEN, WHICH WAS IMPRESSIVE.

LET'S NOT FORGET, THAT WAS AGAINST THE KOBE YEARS LAKERS.

IT WAS LATER ON AT A GAME IN TORONTO WHERE THERE WAS THIS INFAMOUS WAVE AWAY.

CAN YOU SORT OF -- FOR PEOPLE WHO MIGHT NOT BE BASKETBALL FANS, CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHAT TOOK PLACE AND WHY THAT WAS SUCH A -- JUST AN IMPRESSIVE MOVE ON THE PART OF A PLAYER TO MAKE THAT REALLY SORT OF MADE HIM STAND OUT IN TERMS OF CONFIDENCE AND DOMINANCE ON THE COURT?

AS YOU SAID, WE'RE IN TORONTO.

THE GAME IS TIED.

IT'S THE END OF THE GAME.

HE IS THE POINT GUARD.

RIGHT?

POINT GUARDS ARE SUPPOSED TO MAKE PLAYS.

THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO PASS THE SHOT.

HE CHOSE NOT TO PASS A SHOT.

HE WAVED HIS TEAMMATES OFF.

HE IS AT THE TOP OF THE KEY.

HE IS AT THE THREE-POINT LINE, ACTUALLY.

HE WAITS.

HE DRIBBLES OUT THE CLOCK.

AT THE BUZZER, HE TAKES THE THREE.

HE MAKES IT.

THE WHOLE STADIUM GOES CRAZY.

THIS IS NOT IN NEW YORK.

THIS IS TORONTO.

THERE ARE A LOT OF ASIAN FOLKS IN TORONTO, BUT EVERYBODY IN THE CITY WATCHING THIS HAS A BIGGER THAN BASKETBALL MOMENT.

WE HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THIS.

WHO IS THIS KID?

YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO BE ASIAN TO REALIZE SOMETHING VERY DIFFERENT AND VERY SPECIAL WAS HAPPENING.

IN THE MOVIE, WE COVER THIS EXTENSIVELY.

I HAVE BEEN THINKING ABOUT LINSANITY FOR A DECADE.

RIGHT?

I THOUGHT I HAD THOUGHT THROUGH EVERY ANGLE.

THE COMEDIAN THAT'S IN THE MOVIE, THE WAY HE TALKS ABOUT IT.

DURING THE INTERVIEW, IT BLEW MY MIND.

I WAS LIKE, HE DESCRIBED IT AS AN ACT OF DIGDIGNITY.

IF YOU ARE IN THE NBA AND YOU KNOW YOU CAN PLAY, YOU KNOW YOU CAN SHOOT, WHY SHOULD YOU PASS THE BALL UP?

WHY CAN'T YOU TAKE THE GAME-WINNING SHOT?

YOU HAVE THE CONFIDENCE.

YOU HAVE THE SKILL.

YOU HAVE THE DRIVE TO DO IT.

WHY CAN'T YOU DO IT?

THAT'S A QUESTION A LOT OF ASIAN AMERICANS ASK OR ASIAN PEOPLE IN WESTERN SOCIETY.

WE ASK OURSELVES, WHY ARE WE CONSTANTLY THE SUPPORTING CHARACTER?

WHY ARE WE NEVER THE MAIN CHARACTER?

IN THAT MOMENT, DURING THE WAVE OFF, IT FELT LIKE ASIAN PEOPLE COULD FINALLY BE THE PROTAGONIST IN THIS SOCIETY.

LOOK, I ALWAYS FELT THAT WAY.

BUT I NEVER HAD SOMEONE SAY IT OUT LOUD TO ME THAT WAY UNTIL HE DID IT FOR THE MOVIE.

IF YOU WATCH THE SOCIAL MEDIA REACTIONS FROM PEOPLE SINCE THE MOVIE CAME OUT LAST WEEK, THAT HAS BEEN THE MOMENT THAT PEOPLE TALK ABOUT THE MOST, THAT SHOT, THAT WAVE OFF.

THEY RELATE IT TO THEIR LIVES IN THE SAME WAY.

OF COURSE.

THAT MOMENT OF MAIN CHARACTER ENERGY.

I'M WONDERING -- WE HAVE ABOUT A MINUTE LEFT.

IF YOU COULD TELL ME WHAT YOU SEE THE IMPACT WAS.

AS YOU MENTIONED, YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO BE ASIAN AMERICAN TO GET CAUGHT UP IN LINSANITY.

I THINK THAT'S PART OF THE UNDERDOG STORY AND WHY IT RESONATES SO MUCH IN AMERICA.

RIGHT?

YOU JUST HAVE TO BE A LITTLE DIFFERENT TO RESONATE WITH JEREMY AND WITH LINSANITY IN GENERAL.

THAT'S WHY I THINK -- AGAIN, THE REACTION TO '38 AT THE GARDEN' HAVE BEEN EVERYWHERE.

IF YOU WANT -- WE HAVE STEREOTYPES THAT FOLLOW US INTO A MEETING, THAT FOLLOW US DOWN THE STREET, THAT FOLLOW US INTO A PARTY.

EVERY SINGLE -- IT MIGHT BE DIFFERENT FOR MANY PEOPLE AND IT MIGHT BE COMPOUNDED.

EVERYBODY KNOWS WHAT THE STEREOTYPES THAT THEY HAVE TO CONFRONT WHEN THEY WALK INTO A PLACE THAT PEOPLE DON'T KNOW WHO THEY ARE.

IF YOU FELT THIS, YOU WILL RELATE.

FRANK, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR TAKING KNICKS FANS BACK TO ONE OF THE MOST GLORIOUS TIMES.

HERE IS HOPING THAT THERE'S GLORY AGAIN AT THE GARDEN.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE FILM.

HAVE HOPE.

IT'S IMPORTANT TO RE-EXAMINE, I THINK, NOT ONLY WHAT THAT WAS IN TERMS OF SPORTS BUT WHAT THAT WAS IN TERMS OF AMERICA AND THE RELATIONS FOR ASIAN AMERICANS.

THANK YOU FOR THE FILM.

THANK YOU.

IT'S GREAT TO BE HERE.

ABSOLUTELY.

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