N.B.A. Investigating After Jeremy Lin Said He Was Called ‘Coronavirus’
Lin, who is Taiwanese-American, said on social media that he had been called “coronavirus” on the court. He has been playing in the N.B.A.’s developmental league.
- Feb. 27, 2021, 12:05 a.m. ET
The N.B.A. G League said on Friday that it was investigating a report by Jeremy Lin, one of the best-known Asian-American players in basketball, that he had been called “coronavirus” on the court.
Lin disclosed the slur in a Facebook post on Thursday in which he denounced the racism and discrimination faced by Asian-Americans. It was a prominent example of the rising tide of bigotry that many Asian-Americans say they have endured since last year, when former President Donald J. Trump began describing the coronavirus as the “China virus.”
“Being an Asian American doesn’t mean we don’t experience poverty and racism,” wrote Lin, who plays for the Golden State Warriors’ affiliate in the G League, the N.B.A.’s developmental league. “Being a 9 year NBA veteran doesn’t protect me from being called ‘coronavirus’ on the court. Being a man of faith doesn’t mean I don’t fight for justice, for myself and for others.”
A league spokesman confirmed that an investigation had been opened, but declined to comment further. The investigation was first reported by The Athletic.
The investigation came amid a rise in attacks against Asian-Americans, according to government tallies. The number of hate crimes with Asian-American victims reported to the New York Police Department surged to 28 in 2020, from just three in 2019. Activists and police officials said many other incidents had not been classified as hate crimes or had not been formally reported.
In August, a United Nations report found that racially motivated violence and other incidents against Asian-Americans had reached “an alarming level” across the United States since the outbreak of the virus. The report said that more than 1,800 racist incidents against Asian-Americans in the United States had been reported over an eight-week period from March 2020 to May 2020.
The incidents involved people who said they had been spat on, blocked from public transportation, discriminated against in workplaces, shunned, beaten, stabbed and insulted by being called transmitters of the coronavirus, the report said.
Lin, who is Taiwanese-American, has spoken openly about the discrimination and questioning he has faced in professional basketball. He has also proudly embraced his status as a role model and an inspiration for many Asian-Americans.
A former Harvard basketball player, Lin became a breakout sensation in the 2011-12 N.B.A. season when, as a relative unknown on the bench, he took over as a guard for the Knicks and tore through the league, prompting a wave of excitement that became known as “Linsanity.” He scored more points in his first five starts than any other player in nearly 40 years, peaking with 38 against the Los Angeles Lakers.
In his Facebook post on Thursday, Lin, 32, pointed to a generational shift among Asian-Americans.
“We are tired of being told that we don’t experience racism, we are tired of being told to keep our heads down and not make trouble,” he wrote. “We are tired of Asian American kids growing up and being asked where they’re REALLY from, of having our eyes mocked, of being objectified as exotic or being told we’re inherently unattractive.”
“I want better for my elders who worked so hard and sacrificed so much to make a life for themselves here,” he added. “I want better for my niece and nephew and future kids.”
Shauntel Lowe contributed to this report.