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Coronavirus on the court: Lin speaks out

Since the beginning of last March, there has been a rise of bigotry towards Asian-Americans. One of the best-known players in basketball, Jeremy Lin, is the latest to experience racism after he said that he had been called “coronavirus” on the court. The first American-born player of Chinese and Taiwanese descent in the NBA, Lin, disclosed the slur in a Facebook post. This was a few days after doing a candid interview with NBC Sports Bay Area’s “Race In America” to discuss a recent rise of racially-motivated attacks against Asian Americans nationwide. In this Facebook post, he denounced the racism and discrimination toward Asian-Americans. 

“Being an Asian American doesn’t mean we don’t experience poverty and racism,” said Lin, who is part of the Golden State Warriors’ G League affiliate, Santa Cruz Warriors. 

Despite being a former Harvard basketball player, he still suffered from an act of racism during a game without saying when or where it happened.

“Being a 9 year NBA veteran doesn’t protect me from being called ‘coronavirus’ on the court,” Lin wrote. 

Lin was a sensation in the 2011-12 N.B.A. season when he took over as a guard for the Knicks and tore through the league. He peaked with 38 against the Los Angeles Lakers, scoring more points in his first five starts than any other player in nearly 40 years. He also played with the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, Charlotte Hornets, Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks. Playing with the Toronto Raptors, in 2019, Lin became the first Asian American to win an NBA Championship. Lin, who last year pledged up to $1 million to coronavirus relief efforts, has endured  similar situations like many Asian Americans since last year when former President Donald Trump began describing the coronavirus as the “China virus.” This statement although reflecting the origin of the virus, is what some consider to be the tipping point that has led to a rise in violence and defamation towards the Asian community. With Lin being one of the first Asian American athletes to speak out against the anti-Asian sentiment, he has gained support from the NBA’s G League that will be investigating Lin’s report and Golden State coach Steve Kerr. 

“I applaud Jeremy for his words and echo his sentiments regarding racism against the Asian-American community,” Kerr said before Golden State hosted Charlotte at Chase Center. “It’s just so ridiculous and obviously spawned by many people, including our former president, as it relates to the coronavirus originating in China. It’s just shocking. I can’t wrap my head around any of it, but I can’t wrap my head around racism in general.”

Kerr stated that he will support Lin and denounce any discriminatory act that caused Lin to speak out. Lin played 29 games for the Warriors as a rookie in 2010-11, then went to the New York Knicks and gained the popularity that spawned the nickname “Linsanity.” 

“We’re all just flesh and blood. We’re all just people. As (Gregg) Pop (Popovich) once said to me, ‘We’re all accidents of birth. We’re born. We come out the way we are. We don’t have a say in it. What we do have a say in is how we treat people.’ It’s shocking to me that we can treat each other so poorly based on the color of our skin or whatever it is. So I applaud Jeremy for speaking up.”

The investigation was first reported by The Athletic and is coming amongst a rise in attacks against Asian-Americans. According to reports from the New York Police Department, the number of hate crimes with Asian-Americans surged to 28 in 2020 from just three back in 2019. This relatively small number doesn’t take into consideration the fact that many of the attacks do not result in hate crime charges, because the police need evidence that identity was the motivating factor, such as an audible racial slur, a self-incriminating statement, or a history of racist behavior by the attacker. 

Ignoring 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 outlet noted.

 In August, a United Nations 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.”

In a video from January, a 91-year-old person was violently pushed to the ground in Chinatown in Oakland, California. A separate attack last month that was recorded on surveillance video showed Vicha Ratanapakdee, 84, being shoved to the ground in San Francisco. Ratanapakdee later died from his injuries. In another violent incident, in New York City, Noel Quintana, 61, a Filipino American, was slashed in the face while riding the subway.

“We are tired of Asian American kids growing up and being asked where they’re REALLY from, of having our eyes mocked…We are tired of being invisible… or told our struggles aren’t as real,” Lin said in his social media post, “Being a man of faith doesn’t mean I don’t fight for justice, for myself and for others. So here we are again, sharing how we feel. Is anyone listening?”