Mission Statement

The Chicago Dragon’s Athletic Association provides opportunities for young people to make positive contributions to their community through participation and leadership in public activities, athletic competitions, and cultural events. Association members help introduce and share valued aspects of Chinese culture and heritage of Chicago’s Chinatown community.


Founded in 1972 by Gene Lee and friends from Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood, the Chicago Dragons Athletic Association began as one adult team, then a younger team that grew into many teams that offered local youth a recreational alternative to the streets. Despite their regular diet of group fun and athletic activity in the Chicago NISEI Athletic Association basketball leagues, our members grew tired of playing against one another week after week. Lee expanded the Dragons into a citywide activity that attracted young people from neighborhoods throughout the area and joined the Wing Wor On-Leong Tournament from the east coast. This helped to start the Midwest Asian Basketball Tournament and in 1981, the First North American Chinese Basketball Tournament for Chinese teams around the country.

Today the Chicago Dragons Athletic Association boasts that many hundreds of young people ranging in ages from 12 to 55 have participated in Association activities, which build strong cultural values, athletes, and good citizens. In addition to basketball teams, the Dragons formed performing teams that share traditional dragon and lion dances with a growing and increasingly diverse Chicagoland community. Without moving too far beyond the basketball floor, the Dragons are now contributing significantly to their immediate Chinatown community, their city, and their personal understanding of Chinese cultural traditions via the Dragons Volunteer Committee and Chinatown Special Events, coordinates and produces the Annual Lunar New Year Parade, Summer Fair “Taste of Chinatown,” and the Gateway Cheer Station, 21.5 Mile Mark of the Chicago Marathon in Chinatown.