Jeremy Lin can probably sympathize with Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones, who last week said he was taunted with racial slurs in Boston. As an Asian American in the NBA, Lin has heard his share of slurs, too.
But Lin, who plays for the Brooklyn Nets, said on the Outside Shot podcast with his teammate Randy Foye, that he heard more taunts while playing his college ball at Harvard than he hears in NBA arenas.
"The NBA crowd is a lot better than the college crowd," Lin said. "The college crowd goes crazy. Some of the stuff they say, it's crazy. It's all students and they're all drunk. They were saying all kinds of stuff. I was at Georgetown and there was one dude courtside and he kept looking at me the whole game, saying 'chicken fried rice' and 'beef lo-mein' and 'beef and broccoli' ... the whole game. Then we went to Yale and they were like 'Hey, can you even see the scoreboard with those eyes?' Or, in Vermont, I remember at one point, I had my hands up with the Vermont player was shooting free throws and the coach was like, 'Hey ref you can't let that Oriental do that.'
"When I got to the NBA, I thought, 'This is going to be way worse', but it's it's way better. Everybody is more under control."
Lin said that the worst situation during his college days came at Cornell, when he said he was called a derogatory name the entire game. He said it affected him in the first half and that he had one of his worst games. One of his teammates told his coaches what was happening, and Lin had a meeting with assistant coach Kenny Blakeney, who shared a story of his own battle with racism while playing at Duke. Lin said that meeting helped.
"That was a turning point for me in dealing with racism," Lin said. "When you go through that, you have to internalize it and motivate yourself to play better. Whatever you do, you can't play out of character. You can't get your charges and make turnovers and foul out of the game. You have to find a way to turn that negative energy into something positive that motivates you. So that was the last time that I ever let racism affect me in a game. Even in the NBA, there are fans who will say small stuff and it's not a big deal. But that motivates me in a different way."