Best Sports History - 2006
Willie "Woo Woo" Wong Playground
Back in the mid-'40s, the San Francisco Examiner called Willie "Woo Woo" Wong "the biggest little man in basketball." Standing only 5 feet 5 inches tall, the Chinatown resident played far above his height, starring for Lowell and Poly High before helping the San Francisco Saints win a pair of Asian national tournament championships. Wong who gained his handle via fans chanting his name when he scored was an unlikely star, a child of immigrants who was so poor that he practiced with tennis balls. Still, his size forced him to learn all the aspects of the game, to the point where future Hall of Fame coach Pete Newell recruited him for his USF squad, calling him "one of the finest passers and floor men ever to step up to college competition." When Wong died at age 79 last year, local residents rounded up the signatures to rename the former Chinese Playground in his honor, making it the first park in the country named after a Chinese-American athlete.