Jeremy Lin says he felt a sense of bigotry towards him when he wasn't offered a US university scholarship despite being named one of California's top players in his final high-school year.
"Well, I think the obvious thing in my mind is that I was Asian-American, which, you know, is a whole different issue, but I think that was a barrier," Lin said. "I mean it's a stereotype."
Speaking to the US news programme 60 Minutes, Lin said he likely would have been given a basketball scholarship to a major university if he wasn't Asian-American.
The starting point guard for the NBA's Houston Rockets led Palo Alto High School to a 32-1 record and a state championship in 2005-06. Lin finished with an average of 15.1 points, 7.1 assists and 5.0 steals per game and was named northern California's Division 2 player of the year.
Lin eventually signed on with the basketball programme at Harvard University, where he twice made the Ivy League all-star team. Despite his success on and off the court at Harvard, Lin went undrafted by the NBA.
Asked by CBSNews.com if NBA teams passed on Lin because he was Asian-American, NBA commissioner David Stern said: "I think in the true sense the answer to that is yes.
"In terms of looking at somebody … I don't know whether he was discriminated against because he was at Harvard," Stern added with a laugh, according to CBSNews.com "Or because he was Asian."
Lin eventually made his way to New York, where the Knicks signed him as a reserve player whose job was to come into the game off the bench.
Lin was then thrust into a more prominent role when the club had two starters felled by injury.
He led the Knicks on a remarkable winning run, and his brilliant individual play sparked the catchword "Lin-sanity".
The Knicks reached the play-offs and Lin was expected to play a big role for New York in the upcoming season.
But when the Houston Rockets made an offer of US$25 million for three years and the Knicks refused to match it, Lin departed for Texas, where retired Chinese star centre Yao Ming played his entire NBA career.
Lin felt racism slaps last season such as an ESPN website headline "Chink in the armour" after he had a poor showing on the court.