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.
At the age of fourteen, a young man in Waveland, Indiana, had taken over the family farm after the death of his father. Now responsible for taking care of his widowed mother and supporting his four brothers, he took up the reins on the plow to begin preparing the field for planting. Family legend has it that the young farmer, Theodore Clement Steele, tied “colored ribbons to the handles of the plow so that he could watch the ribbons in the wind and the effect that they had on the [surrounding] colors.” Recognizing Steele’s passion for art, his mother supported his choice to make his living as an artist. T. C. Steele, the eighth volume in the Indiana Historical Society Press’s youth biography series, traces the path of Steele’s career as an artist from his early studies in Germany to his determination to paint what he knew best, the Indiana landscape. Steele, along with fellow artists William Forsyth, Otto Stark, Richard Gruelle, and J. Ottis Adams, became a member of the renowned Hoosier Group and became a leader in the development of Midwestern art.