Within Chinese American communities, participation in sports has been a way to form bonds with other Chinese Americans and cross cultural boundaries. In New York City’s Chinatown, basketball courts were scarce but 22 different basketball teams cropped up across the metropolitan area from the 40s to the mid-60s. During the mid-1930s, a group of young men called the Chinese Athletic Club (CAC) would meet for an hour every week at the Church of All Nations on Second Avenue and Houston Street in New York to play basketball and swim. The World War II draft and Japanese internment stole away many players from teams across the city. One of the CAC’s founding members, Coach Lung Chin (Back Row, Center), consolidated the Chinese Basketball Club and the Dragons into the CAC and sacrificed time from his business to shape his players into true athletes. Representing the local Police 5th Precinct, the newly formed Chinatown Midgets, pictured above, won 25 straight games to win the Police Athletic League NYC Midget Championship in 1945, even playing an exhibition game before a sold out crowd at Madison Square Garden during the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) for college basketball that year. The team’s success generated sources to form the Chinese Community Club (CCC.)
In 2012, Jeremy Lin and the “Linsanity” phenomenon put a global spotlight on perceptions of Asian American masculinity, sparked a debate about the myth of a pure athletic meritocracy at work in evaluating player potential, and highlighted the degree to which Asian American basketball networks are able to produce elite players.