clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Jeremy Lin: Racist comments worse in Ivy League than in NBA

New, comments
Indiana Pacers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

In a discussion with Randy Foye on his podcast, "Outside Shot," Jeremy Lin says that racist remarks were far worse when he played at Harvard, in the Ivy League, than in the NBA.

Ohm Youngmisuk writes of the interview, “Lin has dealt with racist remarks as an Asian American in the NBA but he said nothing compares to what he repeatedly experienced while playing in college.”

"The worst was at Cornell when I was being called a c---k," the Nets point guard told 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."

As Lin recounts, fans at some of the nation’s most elite schools were among the worst in terms of using racially charged terms.

One fan at Georgetown shouted negative Asian stereotypes at him such as "chicken fried rice!" and "beef lo mein!" and "beef and broccoli" throughout one game. At Yale, Lin said fans heckled his appearance, specifically his eyes, Youngmisuk wrote.

"They were like, 'Hey! Can you even see the scoreboard with those eyes?'" Lin recalled to his backcourt mate.

And it wasn’t only fans. In one case, it was the coach at the University of Vermont.

"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 [like,] 'Yeah, get that out, c---k!' And the ref heard it, looked at both of us and didn't do anything.

"It's crazy. My teammate started yelling at the ref, you just heard it, it was impossible for you not to hear that. How could you not do something? And the ref just pretended like nothing happened. That was when I was like, yo, this [kind of racism and prejudice] is a beast. So 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."

In a statement Thursday, Mike Lonergan, the Vermont coach during that game, denied he used the ethnic slur. Lin remains the only Asian-American player in the NBA. He spoke as well about Linsanity and his biggest regret during that short but near-mythical run.

"My biggest regret is I never really soaked it in or appreciated it. I was so scared and then I was so focused on all right, they think this so I got to be that and next year I got to play even better and then it was onto the next goal and I was never really able to slow down and appreciate it."

Now, Lin told Foye, there are fewer questions about what it’s like to be Asian in the NBA and more about the game.

"And now when I say badge of honor, it's like, this is cool, I rep for all the Asians, I rep for all the Harvard dudes, I rep for the Cali guys, I rep for the underdogs. I take pride in it. It is not a burden to me anymore. I am not scared anymore. I appreciate it and want to help and challenge the world, stereotypes and everything. Back then I didn't understand it and it came so fast I didn't really know what was going on."