cover of book

Outside the Paint: When Basketball Ruled at the Chinese Playground
by Kathleen Yep
Temple University Press, 2009
Cloth: 978-1-59213-942-2 | Paper: 978-1-59213-943-9 | eISBN: 978-1-59213-944-6
Library of Congress Classification GV885.73.S83Y46 2009
Dewey Decimal Classification 796.3230979461


This fascinating book reveals that Chinese Americans began “shooting hoops” nearly a century before Chinese superstar Yao Ming turned pro. Drawing on interviews with players and coaches, Outside the Paint takes readers back to San Francisco in the 1930s and 1940s, when young Chinese American men and women developed a new approach to the game—with fast breaks, intricate passing and aggressive defense—that was ahead of its time.

Every chapter tells a surprising story: the Chinese Playground, the only public outdoor space in Chinatown; the Hong Wah Kues, a professional barnstorming men’s basketball team; the Mei Wahs, a championship women’s amateur team; Woo Wong, the first Chinese athlete to play in Madison Square Garden; and the extraordinarily talented Helen Wong, whom Kathleen Yep compares to Babe Didrikson.

Outside the Paint chronicles the efforts of these highly accomplished athletes who developed a unique playing style that capitalized on their physical attributes, challenged the prevailing racial hierarchy, and enabled them, for a time, to leave the confines of their segregated world. They learned to dribble, shoot, and steal.

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