The NBA has reportedly opened an investigation into whether an Asian-American player in its developmental league, Jeremy Lin, was the subject of anti-Asian racism, The New York Times says, after Lin posted on Facebook that another player called him “coronavirus” during a game.
Lin, who is Taiwanese-American, is a player in the NBA’s “G-League,” or developmental league, and is considered “one of the best-known Asian-American players in basketball,” according to the Times. He has been part of the league for nearly a decade.
In a post made Friday night, Lin addressed the alleged racism in the context of an ongoing surge of anti-Asian violence reportedly taking place in California and New York, and he suggested that even NBA players who are well-known are not exempt from discrimination and harassment.
“Being an Asian American doesn’t mean we don’t experience poverty and racism,” Lin wrote on Facebook. “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.”
“I want better for my elders who worked so hard and sacrificed so much to make a life for themselves here. I want better for my niece and nephew and future kids. I want better for the next generation of Asian American athletes than to have to work so hard to just be ‘deceptively athletic,” he said.
The Athletic, who first reported on the post, says an NBA official confirmed that there is an open investigation into Lin’s allegations. The NBA was, of course, on a mission, during its most recent season, to address racism and social justice, embracing the Black Lives Matter movement and encouraging its players to speak out on issues of racial discrimination and racial violence.
Lin, for his part, says he will not name the player who allegedly used the slur because he does not believe in personal attacks.
“I know this will disappoint some of you but I’m not naming or shaming anyone,” Lin said in a statement addressing his Facebook post. “What good does it do in this situation for someone to be torn down? It doesn’t make my community safer or solve any of our long-term problems with racism.”
The New York Times was quick to connect Lin’s allegations with a larger narrative of rising violence against Asian-Americans and Asian immigrants — a trend marked by a number of recent, deadly attacks.
“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,” the outlet noted. “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.”
Although the Times seems to blame former President Donald Trump’s rhetoric about the novel coronavirus for the rise in attacks, recent high-profile incidents in California indicate that the phenomenon is not so easily quantified.
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