“This has been something that’s really blowing up or boiling up for a little bit for me,” Lin told CNN’s Don Lemon on Tuesday.
“I’ve seen since last year, around January when everything started to happen, I’ve just seen the rise in a lot of these attacks and hate crimes.”
Advocates and authorities have received reports of thousands of xenophobic attacks against Asian people since the pandemic began.
Currently playing for the Santa Cruz Warriors, the G League affiliate for the Golden State Warriors, Lin says he was recently called “coronavirus” during a basketball game and shared his experience on social media.
The 32-year-old hasn’t named the perpetrator, insisting he only wants to raise awareness of a more widespread problem.
The G League is investigating the incident, a source familiar with the situation told CNN. The G League did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment on how the investigation was progressing.
The guard had been playing for the Beijing Ducks in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) for much of 2020 and was shocked to witness such racism on his return to the US.
“I was removed for about five, six months, and then when I came back, it seemed like things in the US had got even more hostile,” he added.
Lin, who in 2019 became the first Asian American to win an NBA title while playing for the Toronto Raptors, says discrimination toward Asian Americans is nothing new.
He says he was targeted multiple times with racist slurs during his college basketball career but never revealed who those players were. And he believes Covid-19 has simply exposed an underlying problem.
From March to the end of 2020, the Stop AAPI Hate website received more than 2,800 first-hand reports of anti-Asian hate across 47 states and Washington, DC, according to data released earlier this year.
Former President Donald Trump received criticism for referring to the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus” during his presidency and Lin said such discourse hasn’t helped the bigotry against Asian Americans.
“It definitely empowered or exacerbated an issue that was already there,” he added.
“I think at the end of the day, what I would love to see, is that people spend more time listening and hearing than judging and condemning.
“I would love to see cross-cultural solidarity. I would love to see people supporting anti-racism, not just in one people group, but across the board.”
Lin has received support from Golden State Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr who said the NBA veteran’s testament was “really powerful.”
“I applaud Jeremy for his words and echo his sentiments regarding racism against the Asian American community,” Kerr told reporters.