If you wondered whether Jeremy Lin fielded racial slurs while playing college basketball at Harvard, the answer is a resounding yes. Lin, the NBA’s first Chinese-American player, spent four years with the Crimson from 2006 to 2010.
Now the starting point guard for the Brooklyn Nets, he said the NBA fan base is much more open-minded than those during his college seasons, especially when he went on the road.
“The worst was at Cornell, when I was being called a c—k,” Lin said on teammate Randy Foye’s podcast. “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.”
Lin harkened back to a road game at Georgetown, where a courtside fan peppered him with “chicken fried rice,” “beef lo mein” and “beef and broccoli” jeers, as meals typically found at a Chinese takeout restaurant. He also thought back to an incident where a coach made a racially-charged remark that the referee blatantly ignored.
“In Vermont — I remember, because I had my hands up while the Vermont player was shooting free throws — their coach was like, ‘Hey ref! You can’t let that Oriental do that!’” Lin said. “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 [like,] ‘Yeah, get that out, c—k!’ And the ref heard it, looked at both of us and didn’t do anything.”
The NBA has been at the forefront as one of the world’s most progressive professional sporting leagues, but that hasn’t stopped a few instances.
Shortly after Major League Baseball’s Adam Jones had an encounter with fans that threw both racial slurs and peanuts at him in Boston, LeBron James said he’s heard some black athletes “expect that when you go” there. Draymond Green told The Undefeated’s Marc Spears that he’s had his fair share of racial run-ins.
“I’ve gotten the N-word, all of that,” he said. “I’d rather not get into [where]. A few places, especially being that it is me. Athletes are just not protected in that regard.”
Kevin Durant also had some racially-charged remarks vaulted his way in his emotional return to Oklahoma City back in February. Ex-Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was also banished from the NBA after audio tapes surfaced of him using racial slurs to describe Magic Johnson, among others.
The NBA has continued to make strides in all areas of inclusion, and its forward progress hasn’t gone unnoticed.