A couple of months ago I was lucky enough, through having done some freelance work earlier with the same magazine, to be given an opportunity to write a profile on a remarkable woman who devoted her life to those less fortunate than her. I was ecstatic because it was going to be published in several read more...
[Update: the coroner has finally released a report clarifying that Corey Haim did not die of a drug overdose as initially suspected. Haim's official cause of death is pneumonia complicated by an enlarged heart and narrowed blood vessels.] Tragic. One of my favourite dudes from the late 80s and early 90s, Corey Haim, passed away read more...
The latest restaurant to be awarded 3 Michelin Stars in Hong Kong is Caprice, making it only the second restaurant in Hong Kong to hold the prestigious honour (the other being Lung King Heen). It was our last night in Hong Kong so we thought what the heck, we’ll go check it out. Also at read more...
I felt like a bit of a fraud attending Joss Whedon‘s one-and-only “show” at the Sydney Opera House a few Sundays ago. After all, while I was in awe of the man’s undeniable talent and achievements (Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse, Dr Horrible, and in 2012, The Avengers), I don’t consider myself a hardcore fan. To read more...
The added security is a hassle — unless you have a press pass
November 9 & 10
The 18th National Congress is officially underway, and my days generally involve running around between my hotel and the media center at the aptly named Beijing Media Center Hotel. You would think they’d put the media center somewhere convenient and close to the Great Hall of the People. but it’s about 6 subway stations away.
The rich international news agencies generally have their own cars and drivers or get special shuttle buses directly to the venue from their hotel, but cheap news agencies like the one I work for force us to catch the subway.
On Friday, I moved back to the hotel I was originally supposed to stay at (but was cancelled at the last minute). It’s part of the same chain but it’s more convenient, newer, brighter and cleaner — although it’s also a little smaller.
Anyway, not much to blog about since I’ve been spending most of my time attending press conferences and writing articles, so I’ve decided to share some of my random observations of Beijing.
Beijing’s subway system is utterly insane. Off-peak here is like peak time in Sydney and Taipei. I’ve never had so many bodies pressed against me at once, and definitely never so many bodies that smell like they haven’t showered for some time. People have to prepare about 2 stops in advance to make their way through to the door so they can get off.
Red lights don’t count for cars here for some reason. Everyone seems to have accepted this fact, even the traffic cops and pedestrians.
Red lights don’t count for pedestrians either if enough people can cross the road at the same time. Dozens of people just naturally form groups of their own and cross together at the same time, blocking cars that should have the right of way. Strength in numbers. It’s awesome.
Taiwanese people have got nothing on the Chinese when it comes to picking their noses on public transport.
I am always thirsty in Beijing. I have about 4 litres of water a day and I’m still thirsty.
The Oriental Plaza Mall across from when I am staying is huge — it stretches between two subway stations (Wangfujing and Dongdan). Think about that for a second.
There is a serious phlegm problem in Beijing. People are constantly hocking phlegm wherever I go (in fact I can hear it outside my window as I type this), though to their credit there are significantly less spitting noises that follow. It must be something in the air or the food because I’ve been experiencing a significant rise in phlegm myself.
There is no concept of lining up in China. I often see massive crowds of people and I think something must be going on, but they’re actually all just trying to get to the ticket machine at the same time. Years of fighting for survival can do that to people.
The Beijing Media Center Hotel really sucks. The internet there is slow and many websites don’t work. The wi-fi is completely unreliable. I would believe it if someone told me that the Chinese government giving foreign journalists shit internet on purpose so they can’t send their articles back home to get published.
Security is heavy right now at subway stations and near tourist spots in Beijing but you can get away with most of it if you have a press pass (they just let you through without checking most of the time). Makes me worry that someone is going to make a fake press pass. They fake everything here, so surely a press pass is not that hard.
I can’t get out of my head the recording of the English announcer’s voice from the escalators at all subways stations on line one. “Please stand firm, and hold the handrail,” she says. But it sounds like “Please stan-fer, and ho-de-han-ruil” — with a Frank Constanza kind of halting rhythm. I love it.
Beijing (and I assume all of China) has really awesome NBA coverage, with multiple live games and replays throughout the week. The best part is that during timeouts and breaks they almost always show highlights of other games around the league. It’s one continuous NBA-rama here.
From my very limited interactions with taxi drivers in Beijing I have concluded that they are the nicest in the world. The other night I had real trouble getting a cab to go to a journalist function, and I finally managed to hail one down — but it was heading in the wrong direction. The driver was so apologetic that she would have to find somewhere to do a could of U-turns and despite me saying it was perfectly fine since I was the one that chose a cab in the wrong direction she just wouldn’t stop apologizing. And when I arrived at my destination I tried to give her a one yuan tip, but she wouldn’t take it no matter how hard I tried. Are they polite or just crazy?
Indiana Pacers guard Reggie Miller was finally inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend, along with former Pacers legend Mel Daniels. I say “finally” even though this is only his second year of eligibility because I, like many others, thought he should have been on the ballot last year.
This is not a time to debate whether Miller actually deserves to be in the HOF like his big sister Cheryl, a fellow HOFer whom is described as the greatest female basketball player of all time. Reggie’s credentials speak for themselves (you can check them out here), but his career has always been about much more than just stats.
Miller is a unique player and there will never be another player like him. He is almost single-handedly responsible for a whole generation of Pacers fans, including myself. Pacers Pulse would not exist with him. Well, maybe it would, but I wouldn’t be blogging on it.
Reggie was an NBA superstar despite not being known as a prolific scorer. He was an average defender in a league of great defenders. He could be regarded as one-dimensional (by NBA standards, of course). He was consistently good but rarely great, having only made the NBA Finals once and retiring without a ring. He was on a small market team. And yet he was undoubtedly a superstar that struck fear into the hearts of his opponents and their fans.
Miller inspired me because he always looked like the guy you would pick last on your team on the playground. My friends (who all went for the big market and traditionally successful teams) joked that he was an alien who should was in danger of literally slipping through the cracks in the floorboards.
Yes, he wasn’t a competitive psycopath like Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant. He wasn’t dominant like Shaq or Lebron. He’s not athletic like Vince Carter or Blake Griffin. He looked awkward too — he didn’t have the sweet stroke of Ray Allen. But he had the audacity to believe that he belonged on the same court as them. And even if he couldn’t beat all of them, he sure tried his hardest every night. If it meant playing the villain as he often did against the Knicks, then so be it. He was never going to back down from anyone despite his physical disadvantages.
He was the ultimate professional and teammate, a guy that set an example with his relentless work ethic for 18 years. It’s not often that you see a player that hated by opponents and fans during his career be that revered by the end of it. You only need to take a look at this video to understand the impact he had in New York, where he tormented Knick fans for much of his career.
And check out the end of his final game. I don’t recall opponents doing something like this to any player other than Michael Jordan. And remember, this was merely a few months removed from that infamous brawl.
When it comes to memorable moments, Reggie Miller has a truckload of them. My favorite, unlike most others, was not the 25-point fourth quarter or the 8 points in 8.9 seconds. It was game five against the New Jersey Nets in the 2002 playoffs (back when it was a best of five series in the first round), a game I watched live on TV, where Miller hit that 40-footer at the buzzer to force overtime, and then forced a second overtime with a two-handed dunk in traffic against three Nets defenders. The Pacers eventually lost that game, but the fact that they, as the number eight seed, pushed the first seed and eventual NBA finalist that far was something I’ll never forget.
I had a final exam later that day and I remember I needed to get going soon. I was almost glad when it appeared that the Nets had put the game out of reach. And when Reggie hit that improbable bank shot, I went nuts. And so did the telecast, which went black momentarily after the shot went in, driving me even more nuts.
Then when Reggie faked the shot at the top of the key and drove into the lane instead, throwing down that insane two-handed dunk, I lost it again. This was a guy that dunked only a handful of times every season, and he had the balls to drive the ball down the throat of three defenders down by two in the dying seconds of an overtime elimination game. That’s the type of player Reggie Miller was, and I hope that is the way he will always be remembered.
Thanks for the memories Reggie, and congratulations.
I can’t believe I am doing this, and the fact I feel I need to infuriates the hell out of me. But here I am, defending Reggie Miller’s induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Last year, Miller didn’t just miss out on being a first-ballot Hall of Famer — he missed out on being on the finalists’ ballot completely. At the time, some said it was fair. Others called it a travesty. He may not be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but he certainly deserves to be on the damn ballot. At the end of the day, however, no one really thought it was that big of a deal, as long as Miller’s name eventually ends up in Springfield.
This year, Miller is headlining the class of inductees, which also includes, amongst others, coach Don Nelson, former NBA champ Jamaal Wilkes and ABA star Mel Daniels. And all of a sudden there are now people who are suggesting he doesn’t deserve to be in the Hall of Fame at all? Seriously?
If you want to criticize anything, criticize the HOFs selection guidelines, or lack thereof, not the people that get selected because of it. It’s not Miller’s fault that they are letting in so many people most fans have never even heard of.
Inductees are voted in by a small committee based on subjective considerations of merit, meaning whatever they think is relevant. It’s not based on how many championship rings they’ve won, how many All-NBA First Team selections they’ve earned or their career Player Efficiency Rating. And while we’re at it, please remember that it’s the Basketball Hall of Fame, not a list of the greatest or most dominant players to have ever played the game.
Miller may not have any championships (neither does Barkley, Ewing, Malone or Stockton), an All-NBA First Team honor (he has three Third Team selections) or a higher career PER (18.4, according to Basketball-Reference.com — good for 116th in NBA history) to his name, but is he any less deserving than the people that have been selected before him (say Bailey Howell, Maurice Stokes, Adrian Dantley or Chris Mullin)? Is he any less deserving than the people selected for the class of 2012 (a class he is freaking headlining)? The Basketball Hall of Fame needs to be accepted for what it is, not what people think it should be or want it to be.
In any case, let’s take a look at Miller’s basketball career as a whole.
Miller’s raw numbers speak for themselves.
11th overall pick in the 1987 NBA Draft
18 seasons for the Indiana Pacers (retiring in 2005)
regular season career averages: 18.2 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.7 turnovers
regular season career shooting averages: 47.1% FG, 39.5% 3P, 88.8% FT
playoff career averages: 20.6 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1 steal and 1.8 turnovers
playoff career shooting averages: 44.9% FG, 39% 3P, 89.3% FT
Very good, but not flashy, right? And before I forget, let’s throw in numbers from his college and international careers as well, since it’s the Basketball Hall of Fame, not the NBA Hall of Fame (which doesn’t exist).
4 seasons for UCLA (graduating in 1987)
NIT championship (85), Pac-10 championship (87)
college averages: 17.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2 assists, 54.7% FG, 43.9% 3P, 83.6% FT
FIBA World Championship (1994) gold medal; All-Tournament Team selection; 17.1 ppg
Olympic Games (1996) gold medal; 11.4 ppg
These raw numbers and achievements probably won’t blow anyone away, but his career looks a lot more impressive when you start to put them in perspective.
NBA regular season
14th all-time scorer (25,279)
2nd all-time in three-pointers made (2,560; surpassed only by Ray Allen in 2011)
9th all-time in free throw percentage (88.8%); 12th all-time in free throws made (6,237)
3rd all-time in Offensive Rating (121.48)
6th all-time in True Shooting Percentage (61.39%)
7th all-time in games played (1,389)
3rd all-time in games played with one team (1,389); 2nd all time in seasons with one team (18; behind John Stockton’s 19)
11th all-time in Win Shares (174.40); 7th all-time in Offensive Win Shares
Led the league in free throw percentage 5 times (90-91, 98-99, 00-01, 01-02, 04-05)
Led the league in three-pointers made 2 times (92-93, 96-97)
Led the league in True Shooting Percentage 2 times (90-91, 93-94)
Led the league in Offensive Rating 4 times (90-91, 92-93, 93-94, 98-99)
Career-high 57 points (@Charlotte in 1992)
1 of 5 players in NBA history to have had a 50-40-90 season (ie, to have shot 50% FG, 40% 3P and 90% FT — others being Larry Bird, Mark Price, Steven Nash and Dirk Nowitzki)
20th all-time scorer (2,972)
1st all-time in three-pointers made (320)
9th all-time in free throw percentage (89.3%); 15th all-time in free throws made (770)
11th all-time in True Shooting Percentage (60.1%)
11th all-time in Offensive Rating (119.21)
19th all-time in Win Shares (19.9); 8th all-time in Offensive Win Shares (16.18)
Career-high 41 points (vs Milwaukee in 2000)
Franchise leader in games, points, minutes, field goals, three-pointers, free throws, assists and steals
One of 5 Pacers to have jersey retired (others being Roger Brown, Mel Daniels, Bobby Leonard and George McGinnis)
First franchise player to start in an All-Star game
3rd all-time scorer, 3rd all-time in field goals made, 3rd all-time in 3P%, 4th all-time in FT%, 2nd all-time in free throws made, 8th all-time in steals
2nd all-time in single season points (behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar)
Holds single season records for league points (1986; 500), league scoring average (1986; 27.8), free throws made (1986; 202)
Holds single game record for free throws in a game (17) and in a half (13), and points in a half (33)
2nd leading scorer at 1994 FIBA World Championship (behind Shaquille O’Neal)
Miller’s numbers start to speak a lot louder when you consider the company he is in. While you ordinarily wouldn’t put Miller in the same category as some of the all-time greats because he wasn’t the type of player that regularly dominated the game, some of his numbers and records suggest otherwise. In particular, Miller’s Similarity Score at Basketball-Reference.com, which finds players throughout NBA history with the same career quality and shape, puts him in the same league as guys like Kobe Bryant, John Stockton, Clyde Drexler, Ray Allen, Steve Nash, Jerry West, Jason Kidd and Magic Johnson — all current or future Hall of Famers.
One of the most common arguments critics use to discredit Miller’s career is that he was “one-dimensional” or that he was a poor defender. I even read a recent article which claimed that all Miller did for 18 seasons was curl off screens. Sorry, but you don’t become the NBA’s 14th all-time leading scorer by just curling off screens. The Knicks’ Steve Novak is one dimensional. Former Pacer James Posey, in his last season, was one dimensional.
But anyone that has watched Miller play, especially during his prime, will know he had a surprisingly wide offensive repertoire. Defensively, his weight and lateral movement gave him problems against bigger, quicker guards, but his height (6’7”) and length troubled them too. And what do you think chasing Miller around all game did to their stamina?
In any event, being an all-round player or a wonderful defender are not prerequisites for the Hall of Fame. That’s like saying Dennis Rodman doesn’t deserve to be in it because he is not a great scorer or because Wilt Chamberlain wasn’t a good free throw shooter. If Rodman can get in for being one of the greatest rebounders of all-time, then why can’t Miller get in for being one of the greatest, if not the greatest three-point shooter of all-time?
But to debate whether Miller deserves to get in on his three-point shooting or any other of his records is missing the point entirely. The Hall of Fame should, and does, go far beyond numbers and statistics. Miller’s fame (this is the Hall of Fame, mind you) and the impact he has had on the game of basketball, especially in Indiana, the Hoosier state, puts him right up there with the all-time greats.
Miller was the face of a franchise for almost his entire career. He was Indiana’s best player for more than a decade. How many players in NBA history can say the same thing?
If you ask anyone to name a single player to have played for the Indiana Pacers, even now, chances are they would say Reggie Miller. If you ask any New York Knicks fan which player has tormented their team more than any other, apart from Michael Jordan (and possible Carmelo Anthony — kidding), chances are they would say Reggie Miller. If you ask who they would want to take a last second three-pointer with their team down by two, Reggie Miller would likely be in the top five, if not number one.
Miller might have had a couple of championships but for the guy on his left and a prime Shaquille O'Neal and a rising Kobe Bryant in 2000
If you ask someone to name the most memorable moments in NBA playoff history off the top of their head, chances are they will include Miller’s 25-point fourth quarter against the Knicks in the 1994 playoffs, and if not, certainly his 8 points in 8.9 seconds against the Knicks a year later. And what about his game-winning three-pointer over Michael Jordan in the 98 East finals, or my personal favorite, the 39-foot buzzer-beating bank shot to force the first overtime, and then the two-handed dunk to force the second one against the top-seeded Nets in 2002? How many players outside of Michael Jordan has had so many defining moments in their careers?
I get it if people want to diminish Miller’s achievements because he’s not the type of player traditional fans like. He plays for the small market Pacers. He looks like an alien and is so thin he might slip through the cracks in the floorboards; he flops a lot, likes to talk trash and enjoys playing the villain. And yes, he pushed off Jordan and then danced around in circles like a little girl (and that was because he was playing with a badly sprained ankle, for those who don’t remember). But he also struck fear into the hearts of his opponents like only the greats could.
He was a truly unique player, the kind the NBA might never see again. For that, and the impact his remarkable career had on UCLA, the Indiana Pacers, the NBA, Team USA and the sport of basketball in general — for more than two decades — no one should question Reggie Miller’s rightful inclusion in the Hall of Fame ever again.
I really need to find more time to play video games these days. Despite purchasing the game on DAY ONE, I have only recently found time (well, at least at the time I typed this sentence a few weeks ago) to play enough of NBA 2K12 to be able to give my thoughts about it and found the time to write the darn review.
It’s easy to proclaim 2K12 as the greatest basketball simulation of all time. After all, 2K11 was the previous GOAT and there has been nothing to challenge it since, especially considering that the NBA Live (aka Elite) team is still on hiatus after the embarrassing debacle that was NBA Elite 2011, the game that never was.
That said, I’m not going to judge 2K12 as a an independent video game. It’s only fair that I compare the game to its predecessor, 2K11, because that’s the only yardstick people can compare to.
So does the 2K12 compare favourably to 2K11? On the whole, yes. The best improvements are the controls, the simplified playcalling, the widened legends roster, more legendary teams, and the presentation. But to be perfectly honest, it’s not a revolutionary advancement in the franchise.
Let’s break it down.
The graphics are supposed to be improved, but I really could not tell. In fact, some friends have told me that they felt the visuals actually took a step back this year.
There’s just something different about it, as though the level of detail has been pared back slightly. The players don’t look quite as shiny during the gameplay, though the close up cut scenes are as impressive as ever. Another improvement is the extent to which the computerised players resemble their real life counterparts (for instance, Kobe looks less like an alien). One of the biggest problems before — the bad hairdos of white guys (including coaches) — has been fixed somewhat. It’s not perfect but it’s a step in the right direction.
There has been an improvement, but white dudes' hairstyles still don't look quite right
This year, with the new NBA’s Greatest (discussed below), the creators of the game also ingeniously tried to emulate the TV broadcast quality of times gone by, so if you play an 80s game, the colours are less sharp, and if you play a 60s game, the game is fuzzier and in black and white. Even though it’s kind of gimmicky, it’s a nice added touch.
Ultimately, I think it’s possible that the visuals are more realistic but less detailed. It looks more like a live game you would see on TV rather than a video game with mind-blowing graphics. Does that make sense?
Not a lot of improvement here. New music, a new commentator (Steve Kerr, replacing Clark Kellogg and joining Kevin Harlan), but not a whole lot of freshness. Not to say the commentary isn’t good, but in terms of variety and the amount of excitement it can add to the game, I think it has essentially peaked for the series. The only real way to improve it is to make the commentary more varied, more dynamic and more excited when players make big plays.
Improved again from last year. Not dramatic changes in terms of the menus (just more streamlined) but I quite like the changes they made in stuff like player intros, the half time reports and the post game features like Player of the Game, etc. You can tell they put a lot of effort into making the game seem like a real TV broadcast.
Last year I thought the gameplay was already pretty awesome, and this year they upped it another notch.
It might take a little while to get used to the changes, but it’s worth trying the various tutorials and drills to get the hang of them before playing proper games. It makes a HUGE difference when you feel more in control of the players you are controlling. It not only makes you a better player, it makes the games far more exciting.
The best improvements are in the areas of post play (offense and defense) and off the ball movement. There is an entire tutorial teaching you how to fake out your opponent when playing without the ball. You can learn how to pound the ball inside and wreak havoc down low like Kevin McHale or Hakeem Olajuwon by using an encyclopaedia of post moves. It’s awesome. Your ability to call for screens, utilise the give-and-go, perform up-and-unders, hop steps, spin moves, in-and-outs, behind the back dribbles, crossovers, Euro steps, face-up moves — the whole shebang — makes the game super real and will keep players coming back as they improve their techniques with the control pad.
That’s the best thing — you can play on the lower levels with just the basics and it’ll be fine, but as you get to the more difficult settings, you really need to learn the entire repertoire of moves to have a chance against your opponents.
The computer AI is also improved, though it might be hard to tell for casual gamers unless you line the two up side by side. But it’s there. Fast breaks are better on both sides of the ball. Crazy passes are less likely to thread through untouched. If you run into teammates you’ll lose the ball. Playcalling has been simplified and you can simply call plays for particular players or just call the best play available. It’s the little things that have made the biggest differences in the game.
You still have the same stuff from last year, so I won’t go through them all. The new headline mode is the aforementioned NBA’s Greatest. Last year it was reliving Michael Jordan’s greatest moments — a good idea that got old real quick. This year, there are a lot more legends and you only need to complete one challenge game to unlock more stuff, and all you have to do is win the freaking game. You got guys like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Scottie Pippen, Isiah Thomas, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Karl Malone, John Stockton, and so on. It’s fine, but it’s still a single playthrough kind of mode.
The modes you’ll spend most of your time on are still the Association Mode and My Player Mode.
Association Mode is largely unchanged, but it’s still the most packed mode in the game that will allow you to play for hours and hours through years of NBA seasons, playing games, organising rosters, scouting new rookies, making trades, signing players, scheduling practices, developing young players and so forth.
A little overboard for the 14th pick of a weak draft, but these little touches make 2K12 fun
My Player Mode is slightly improved. The biggest change is that instead of going in the D-League to start off, you get to play in a showcase game which will determine where you go in the NBA Draft. If you play well enough you get drafted, which is pretty cool (they show the whole process, including handshakes with Commissioner David Stern), and you’ll get a chance to fight for a starting position straight away. Jeremy Lin, anyone?
There are also add on downloadable features, such as the Legends Showcase. I’m too cheap to get it, but here’s a review and it seems decent if you are into living in the past and playing with legends all day long.
Not for me, but I hear that the online mode is not very stable, at least not on the PS3. Apparently, a lot of people have flooded back to 2K11′s online mode, which is a huge indictment of this year’s game.
The good thing about having the Internets is that you can update your roster to keep them up-to-date with what’s been happening in real NBA (eg, I hear Jeremy Lin recently got a stats upgrade). You can also download fan-made rosters and players, so you can get your hands on players who aren’t licensed for the game — the main ones being Reggie Miller, Charles Barkley and Allen Iverson. If you have a lot of time on your hands you can also create your own players and teams and share them with others.
Reckon there's going to be a lot of Linsanities online?
This was one of the things 2K played up in the lead up to the release — you can play 2K12 with the Playstation Move! Wow! And it’s so easy and intuitive anyone can do it on their first try!
Err…no, that idea just stinks. If you want to play real basketball, pick up a ball and go outside. I haven’t even bothered trying the Move mode of the game. It’s a waste of time.
Check this out and tell me it’s not lame.
So is 2K12 worth getting if you already have 2K11? Now? Yes. Originally, when the game was first released, the NBA was still in lockout mode, meaning you had only a couple of the pre-signed rookies in this year’s class. With the NBA now in full swing, you can download the official updated rosters or the fan-made ones.
For me, the greatest improvement was the controls and gameplay. If you have the patience to lean the moves, 2K12 becomes much more enjoyable than 2K11. All the other improvements, such as the presentation and the graphics (if you call it an improvement) were nice, but they’re not game changers. If you can’t let go of the past and feel the urge to keep using Larry Bird to shoot over Chuck Person while saying, “Merry F&*%ing Christmas”, then the NBA’s Greatest Mode would also be a great reason to buy the game.
At the end of the day, 2K12 is of course a better game than 2K11, but it didn’t blow me away like I thought it would. Nonetheless, credit must go to 2K for making the effort to improve last year’s game when they had zero competition. It will still be the most played game in my collection until 2K13.
Jeremy Lin is rumored to be the subject of several upcoming films
[Updated to include latest info on Landry Fields and Lin's love interest]
Avid New York Knicks fan and filmmaker Spike Lee has announced a shortlist of actors to play Jeremy Lin in his upcoming sports biopic based on the life of the Asian-American superstar who has taken the basketball world by storm.
The film, which currently has a slew of working titles including Linsanity, Lincredible: The Jeremy Lin Story, Lin Got Game, Linception, Linderella Man, Linvincible, The First NBA Player of Chinese or Taiwanese Descent, and Linning! (though Charlie Sheen has threatened to sue if this title is used), will be written by Academy Award winning scriptwriter Aaron Sorkin (selected for his familiarity with Harvard after The Social Network) and is set to begin casting next month.
Spike Lee wants his Jeremy Lin biopic to be "as authentic as possible".
Even though it is a sports film, Lee has emphasized the importance of selecting a Jeremy Lin with an acting background who can convey the emotions of the humble, deeply religious 23-year-old from Palo Alto.
The shortlisted actors (in no particular order) and Lee’s comments on each of them are set out below:
John Cho (Harold & Kumar) — “He is the early favorite because he is a lanky Asian and he oozes a wholesomeness which reminds me of Jeremy. John is also goofy and funny, which Jeremy apparently is as well. Needless to say, Kal Penn (Kumar) will of course play (Lin’s teammate and buddy) Landry Fields. He’ll have to leave his post at the White House again, and maybe Obama will want to join him. I hear the president can ball!”
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost) — “I always liked the Korean guy from Lost, but I was skeptical because I thought he couldn’t speak English. After watching the new Hawaii Five-O, I realized I was wrong, so he’s on the shortlist. Yeah he’s a bit old but non-Asians can never tell how old Asians really are, so I’m not too concerned. Sayid (Naveen Andrews) from Lost will play Landry if we choose DDK.”
Jimmy Tsai (Ping Pong Playa) — “Jimmy is a relative unknown, but he showed that he knew a little about hoops and Asian culture in writing the hilarious Ping Pong Playa, so I would say he is the dark horse. As for Landry, it’ll probably be one of Jimmy’s black friends from Playa, maybe the one that speaks Asian.”
Chris Pang (Tomorrow, When the War Began) — “Those Aussie actors are taking Hollywood by storm, so you never know, Chris could be the next Russell Crowe. He was crap in Tomorrow, When the War Began, but I think all he needs is a chance to show what he’s capable of, just like Jeremy. The guy who plays the Greek guy (Deniz Akdeniz) in Tomorrow will have to do as Landry.”
Chi Cao (Mao’s Last Dancer) — “Cao already played one iconic Asian as Li Cunxin in Mao’s Last Dancer, so why not play another one? Ballet dancing and basketball are deceptively similar. Oh, and I think he can speak Chinese really good, which none of the others can. Unfortunately no black people in Last Dancer so it’s gonna be hard finding a Landry for him.”
Robert Downey Jr (The Avengers) — “Robert’s one of the most versatile actors on the planet and after watching Tropic Thunder I’m sure he can pull this off. He’ll have plenty of Landries to choose from, such as Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes) or Zach Galifinakis (Due Date). My preference is Terrence Howard (Iron Man) but if we ever make a sequel I might replace him with Don Cheadle (Iron Man 2). Heck, RDJ is so damn talented he’ll probably play both roles.”
The shortlist of actors will be reduced to three finalists by the end of the week, says Lee. The finalists not selected will have a chance to play Jeremy Lin’s brothers, Josh and Joseph.
Noah Ringer, the kid actor from M Night Shyamalan’s masterpiece, The Last Airbender, will play the young Jeremy Lin. ”He fooled audiences once; he can do it again,” says Lee.
Actors rumored to play Lin’s inspirational father, Gie-Ming Lin, include Jackie Chan (Rush Hour), Jet Li (Kiss of the Dragon), Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai), Chow Yun Fat (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and Ken Leung (The Hangover). Every actress from The Joy Luck Club is said to be vying for the opportunity to play Lin’s mother, Shirley.
Two of the Wayans brothers are said to be in talks to play Lin’s Knicks superstar teammates, Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, while George Clooney is allegedly the favorite to play Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni.
Jesse Eisenberg will reprise his role as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg from The Social Network as Lin’s college buddy.
Lee will of course play himself, and Dallas Mavericks bench player and Chinese national Yi Jianlian is also rumored to make a cameo as Yao Ming, whom Lin apparently speaks to after every game for some reason.
Given the importance of Lin’s religious beliefs, God will of course play a major role in the film. The favorite to land the role should be Morgan Freeman, says Lee, though he is leaning towards Celtics sharpshooter Ray Allen, who has already played Jesus once in Lee’s earlier basketball film, He Got Game.
No Hollywood fairytale movie would be complete without a love interest, and while Lee has many fine actresses of Asian descent to choose from, he intends to stay true to the real Jeremy Lin, who is single. ”Look, I don’t want no bitches messing up Linsanity’s mojo, in my movie or in real life,” says Lee. ”But I know how love interests drive movies so I’m going to compromise and revive Wilson from Castaway, and get our make-up and CGI guys to reincarnate him into a basketball called Spalding (the official basketball of the NBA).”
One of the perceived obstacles to the film is that Jeremy Lin is 6’3″ (191cm) and there are no Asian actors in the world that tall. However, Lee is not perturbed. “Hey, Andy Dufresne from Shawshank was supposed to be a shorty and they got freaking Tim Robbins to play him,” Lee says. “And didn’t they just choose Tom Cruise to play Jack Reacher from those Lee Child books? Come on.
“If the chosen actor is shorter than 5’9″ (175cm), I will speak to Peter Jackson and employ the techniques he used in The Lord of the Rings on the dwarves and hobbits to make everyone else around Jeremy shorter. If the actor is more than 5’9″ (175cm) I will consult Tom Cruise to see how he manages to look as tall as his co-stars in all his movies.”
Shooting is expected to begin after the NBA Finals.