Jeremy Lin's experience with on-court racism in the G League bubble wasn't his first in a basketball game.
During four seasons at Harvard from 2006 to '10, Lin said he was called a "c---k" in a game at Cornell and labeled an "oriental" by a Vermont coach. Lin, 32, didn't specify who said the slurs, just as the Santa Cruz Warriors guard refused to name the player who allegedly called him "coronavirus" during a game in the bubble in Orlando, Fla. last month.
"To me, it's not about trying to take somebody down or anything like that," Lin told Don Lemon in an interview on "CNN Tonight" on Tuesday. "It's about building awareness, and it's about promoting solidarity."
Lin, feeling compelled to speak out amid a dramatic rise in anti-Asian racism and violence during the coronavirus pandemic, revealed last week in a lengthy social-media post that an opposing player called him "coronavirus" during a game. The NBA G League confirmed to The New York Times last Friday that it had opened an investigation into Lin's claim.
Steve Kerr, coach of the NBA Warriors, offered his support to Lin after the guard's post, telling reporters in a video conference that the uptick in anti-Asian racism was "spawned by many people, including our former president." An expert appointed by the United Nations' Human Rights Council to write a report on the increase in xenophobic attacks on Asian Americans told NBC News in October that former President Donald Trump's racist rhetoric, including blaming China for the origin and spread of COVID-19, "really does legitimize those kind of acts."
"The head of government is essentially legitimizing a climate where certain groups are wrongfully associated with a virus that affects everybody equally," E. Tendayi Achiume said in October. "It's really a serious problem from a human rights perspective."
Lin criticized Trump last March for "empowering" racism with his words at the onset of the pandemic. He told Lemon on Tuesday that the former president "exacerbated an issue that was already there," and one that he didn't learn about growing up in "kind of a Northern California bubble" in Palo Alto.
"If you look all the way back, you see the Chinese Exclusion Act," Lin said, referring to the United States' history of anti-Asian racism. "You see Japanese internment camps. You see the murder of Vincent Chin. You see a lot of these different things that have happened, [and] things that I was never taught in history class. I had to go out of my way to go learn this stuff."
Lin and the Santa Cruz Warriors have won nine games in a row, climbing to the top of the G League standings. They have two regular-season games remaining, and (at least) one playoff game in the eight-team, single-elimination tournament. For every 3-pointer he makes in the bubble, Lin is donating $1,000 to Trybe, an East-Oakland-based nonprofit that will partner with EBAYC to bring Black and Asian peace ambassadors to Chinatown and Little Saigon.
Lin told Lemon that his goal is bridge cultural gaps and promote solidarity across ethnic and racial lines.
"I would love to see people supporting anti-racism, not just in one people group but across the board," Lin said.