Linsanity is a documentary about Jeremy Lin, but it doesn’t just follow the career of one of the NBA’s most celebrated and controversial players. It documents what people love about sports.

People don’t watch basketball to see slam dunks, or to yell at ESPN analyst Skip Bayless. They don’t crowd into smoke-filled bars only to argue about their fantasy teams.

They talk about the game because they love to watch under-appreciated players like Lin overcome incredible odds—and to watch him take a pocket three against the Los Angeles Lakers and change the world.

For the first two games he played in the NBA, people thought Lin was a fluke. But when he shot that three-pointer to close out a game against Kobe Bryant’s Lakers in Los Angeles, people knew they were watching something special.

It wasn’t always so easy.

Linsanity follows this Palo Alto High School grad’s struggles to overcome adversity on and off the basketball court, from his childhood through his professional career. After getting passed up by all 30 teams in the 2010 NBA draft, Lin was signed to the Golden State Warriors, making him the first Asian American NBA player of the modern era.  The Warriors soon cut him—as did the Houston Rockets a couple weeks later. The New York Knicks then picked Lin up and were also about to cut him after less than two months before he finally got his chance to really play.

Lin took the struggling Knicks on a 9-3 run in his first dozen games—making him the best point guard in the world for about three weeks.

Before his second game as a starter, against against the Lakers, Kobe Bryant told reporters he didn’t know who Lin was. Lin put up 38 points to Bryant’s 34 for a big win for his favorite moment of the season.

That’s basically the story of how an overlooked, undrafted player went from an obscure athlete crashing on his brother’s couch to a dominant force in basketball.

Once he became famous, Lin forced a long overdue discussion about race in the United States. Countless sports analysts discussed how Lin “doesn’t look the part” of an NBA player. ESPN fired an editor after he approved a headline about Lin’s “chink in the armor” after the point guard’s first loss as a starter. Boxer Floyd Mayweather tweeted “Jeremy Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he's Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don't get the same praise.”

This particular strain of racism had laid dormant for years and it took a 23-year-old basketball player to help bring it to the surface and lay it to rest. Not bad for a guy who went undrafted.

Linsanity will be shown Sat, Oct. 19, 6:30pm at Riverfront Cinemas in Santa Cruz, as part of the Pacific Rim Film Festival.