Jeremy Lin Admits He Wasn't 'Always Comfortable' with 'Linsanity' When He Debuted with the Knicks

Lin reflects on that infamous season with the New York Knicks and his impact on the Asian American community in the new HBO Max documentary, 38 at the Garden

Jeremy Lin #17 of the New York Knicks in action against the Detroit Pistons on March 24, 2012 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Knicks defeated the Pistons 101-79.
Jeremy Lin. Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty

If Jeremy Lin could change one thing about 38 at the Garden, the new HBO documentary about his infamous season with the New York Knicks, he'd omit some of his own screen time.

"I haven't always been very comfortable with, you know, Linsanity and the spotlight," Lin admits to PEOPLE.

38 at the Garden features exclusive interviews with Lin and others about how his legacy has impacted the Asian American community. Lin took the NBA by storm in 2011 and 2012 after he unexpectedly became one of the team's star players, alongside Carmelo Anthony. That era became known as "Linsanity."

The former NBA star says reliving that time wasn't easy for him, so his involvement in production was limited. "I intentionally was like, 'I don't want to know the first cut, second cut, or third cut. I just want to watch it when it's all said and done.'"

Hassan Minaj Jeremy Lin
"38 At The Garden" Premiere - 2022 Tribeca Festival. Jamie McCarthy/Getty

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The 38-minute documentary short features exclusive interviews with Lin, Hasan Minhaj, Lisa Ling and others as they break down Lin's impact on Asian American culture.

"I was just blown away by the interviews," says Lin, who praises the group for taking the project to the next level. "I wish there were more of their interviews in there and less of mine," he says with a laugh.

Lin says he thought the final product was "amazing" when he first saw it, and now he's excited about how the film can continue to resonate with Asian Americans.

"I would want my fans to walk away remembering that this was my experience, and they got to witness it, but my story could be their story."

"There's a relatability factor in this story that makes it so that more people can relate than when you hear of some of those other stories. If there are things that you could draw from this, and apply it to your own life, that would make my story more meaningful to me," he says.

After nine seasons jumping between teams in the NBA, Lin left in 2019 and signed with the Beijing Ducks. And this past September, Lin signed a deal to play with the Guangzhou Loong Lions.

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When he didn't receive any offers from NBA teams in 2021, Lin penned a thoughtful reflection on Instagram about his career. "May 16th. In my mind was an imaginary circle around this date for an NBA callup," Lin wrote. "The final deadline. After a year in the [Chinese Basketball Association] where I overcame mental barriers from my past, I KNEW I was still an NBA player."

"Teams all asked if I still had the hunger, health and skill to hang in the NBA," he continued. "They wanted to see me hoop in person. So I gave up a season overseas to go down to the G League — a move few vets dare make. I've always known I need to jump through extra hoops to prove I belong so this was par for the course."

Taiwanese-American basketball player Jeremy Lin Shu-How poses for photos with fans at an airport on August 26, 2022 in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province of China.
Jeremy Lin. VCG/VCG via Getty

Lin said he was proud of his time in the G League, having achieved career highs "across the board." But the 32-year-old became frustrated as time passed and his opportunity never came.

"For months, I saw others get contracts, chances, opportunities. I told myself I just need ONE 10-day contract, one chance to get back on the floor and I would blow it out the water," he explained. "After all that's how my entire career started — off one chance to prove myself."

"For reasons I'll never fully know, that chance never materialized," Lin said. "But I proved I'm better than ever and an NBA player. And like I've said before ... dream big dreams, risk big heartache."

The HBO documentary 38 at the Garden is available now on HBO and HBO MAX.

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