Wataru Misaka (Japanese) became both the 1st Asian and the 1st non-Caucasian person to play for the Basketball Association of America (now known as the National Basketball Association), when he played for the New York Knicks during the 1947–48 season. Misaka broke the color barrier in basketball as Jackie Robinson was doing the same in baseball. After Misaka was cut in 1948, there wasn't another Asian player until 2 blasian players came along in the 1970s and 1980s – Corey Gaines and Raymond Townsend.
In a January 2011 Wall Street Journal article, Raymond Townsend is quoted as saying, "When I played, people thought I was just one of the lighter-skinned NBA players with an Afro. No one knew I was Filipino."
There's my answer.
* Palo Alto Online, "First Person: A Conversation with Jeremy Lin", December 15, 2011.
* The Arizona Republic, "Phoenix Mercury's Corey Gaines proves to be player's coach", May 23, 2011.
* The Wall Street Journal, "NBA Game Promises to Be a Turkey? Call In the Turks - or the Filipinos", January 19, 2011.