Before “Linsanity,” people called him by other names too: “chicken fried rice,” “beef lo mein,” and “beef and broccoli,” to name a few.
While playing for Harvard, Jeremy Lin said he encountered some of the most derogatory and racist remarks on the court—from opposing players, fans, and even a coach. The 28-year-old point guard recounted some of these experiences in a May 10 podcast hosted by his Brooklyn Nets teammate Randy Foye.
“The worst was at Cornell, when I was being called a chink,” recalled Lin, who said he responded by going into “turtle mode.”
In the interview, Lin, whose parents emigrated from Taiwan, also talked about how a person in the stands at a Georgetown game harassed him by calling him Chinese dishes and how a coach at another game referred to him as an “Oriental” to a referee, who let the offensive remark slide.
At an away game at Yale, someone had mocked him for his Asian features by asking, “Can you even see the scoreboard with those eyes?” He added that he was often underestimated by other players and the media because of his appearance. “Coming out of college, everybody who criticized me was like, he is too weak and not fast enough and not athletic enough,” the 6-foot-3-inch-tall player recalled.
There is a bright spot though. Lin assumed the abuse he endured as a college athlete would only get worse when he went pro. “When I got to the NBA, I thought this is going to be way worse,” he said. “But it is way better.”