G League looking into Lin’s ‘coronavirus’ claim

    Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

The G League is investigating a claim made by Jeremy Lin that he was called “coronavirus” during a game, a league official told ESPN’s Marc Spears on Friday.

In a Facebook post Thursday, Lin, the former NBA guard now playing for the Santa Cruz Warriors of the G League, spoke out about the racism he believes the Asian American community continues to deal with and offered examples that he said he’s experienced.

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

Lin didn’t specify when he was called that, and it was unclear whether the incident occurred in the G League bubble in Orlando, Florida, where Lin currently is playing as a member of Santa Cruz, the Warriors’ affiliate.

On Friday night, Golden State coach Steve Kerr said he’d like to see the NBA investigate Lin’s claim.

“I just saw the Facebook post just now,” Kerr said. “Really powerful. I applaud Jeremy for his words and echo his sentiments regarding racism against the Asian American community. It’s just so ridiculous and obviously spawned by many people, including our former president [Donald Trump], as it relates to the coronavirus originating in China. It’s just shocking. I don’t know — I can’t wrap my head around any of it, but I can’t wrap my head around racism in general.”

Lin became the first American-born NBA player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent when he broke in with the Warriors during the 2010-11 season. He became best known for a hot scoring stretch — one that led to wins with the New York Knicks during the 2011-12 season — that was described as “Linsanity.” In total, the former Harvard star averaged 11.6 points and 4.3 assists in 480 games in the NBA from 2010 to 2019.

He previously had spoken out about racist taunts he received while playing, saying in a 2017 podcast that while some came during his time in the NBA, they were far worse during his four years at Harvard while competing on the road from 2006 to ’10.

In his Facebook post Thursday, Lin said the current generation of Asian Americans “is 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. We are tired of the stereotypes in Hollywood affecting our psyche and limiting who we think we can be. We are tired of being invisible, of being mistaken for our colleague or told our struggles aren’t as real.

“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.'”

Before his G League stint this season, Lin had been playing in the Chinese Basketball Association.

When asked specifically about whether he would like to see an investigation regarding Lin’s claim, Kerr quickly answered Friday.

“Oh yeah, for sure,” he said. “As I said, I saw the post, the reference was a little bit vague, so I think it would be good to know what happened.”

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