Brooklyn Nets point guard Jeremy Lin, an Asian American best known for his "Linsanity" fame while with the New York Knicks, says he has dealt with racist remarks at every phase of his basketball journey. But nothing compares to what he experienced in college while playing for Harvard.
Lin, who was a four-year player for the Crimson, has broken barriers in the NBA by becoming the first American-born NBA player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent. He says the amount of racist comments he has received as a pro, however, doesn't compare to what he heard from fans, players and even coaches while he was in college.
"The worst was at Cornell, when I was being called a c---k," Lin said in an interview on Randy Foye's podcast, Outside Shot with Randy Foye. "That's when it happened. I don't know ... that game, I ended up playing terrible and getting a couple of charges and doing real out-of-character stuff. My teammate told my coaches [that] they were calling Jeremy a c---k the whole first half. I didn't say anything, because when that stuff happens, I kind of just, I go and bottle up -- where I go into turtle mode and don't say anything and just internalize everything."
Lin says he also remembered a time when he played at Georgetown where opposing fans directed Asian stereotypes at him, calling him "beef lo mein" and "chicken fried rice" as a way of heckling him on the court. Lin said fans from Yale heckled his appearance, saying "Hey, can you even see the scoreboard with those eyes?"
But he says fans weren't the only ones who were guilty -- even opposing coaches got involved.
"In Vermont, I remember because I had my hands up while the Vermont player was shooting free throws [that] their coach was like, 'Hey ref! You can't let that Oriental do that!' I was like, what is going on here? I have been called a c---k by players in front of the refs, the refs heard it because they were yelling it 'Yeah, get that out, c---k!' And the ref heard it, looked at both of us and didn't do anything."
Although fans in the NBA are more plentiful and the chances of similar heckling being done in the professional ranks is pretty high, Lin says he's had the opposite experience. When some fans say stuff, Lin says, they're smaller digs that only motivate him.
"When I got to the NBA, I thought, this is going to be way worse. But it is way better. Everybody is way more under control," Lin said. "To this day in the NBA, there are still some times where there are still some fans that will say smaller stuff and that is not a big deal. But that motivates me in a different way."