Thursday, October 31, 2013

October 31, 1950: Earl Lloyd Becomes The First African American To Play In The NBA

On October 31, 1950,Washington Capitols forward, Earl Lloyd became the first African American to play in the NBA. The defensive specialist knocked down 6 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and dished out 5 assists in his solid debut. Unfortunately for him and his team they couldn't stop Arnie Risen and the Rochester Royals who won the contest 78-70 with Risen leading the way with 20 points on the day. The score hardly mattered as much as the significance of the NBA becoming an integrated league. While the league had only been in existence for a few years at that point it an important step forward not only for the league but for every African American male that had hopes and dreams of playing professional basketball. Just one day later Chuck Cooper became the second African American to play in the league when he debuted with the Boston Celtics, and four days after that Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton joined the both of them when he debuted with the New York Knicks. Each of these men helped pave the way for many young men that followed. Lloyd played with the Captiols for just 7 games before the franchise folded. After that he joined the United States Army for a year before the Syracuse Nationals picked him up off of waivers. He spent  6 of his 8 NBA seasons in Syracuse before finishing up with the Detroit Pistons. After his playing days ended, the Pistons came close to making Lloyd the first African American coach in the league but ended up going in a different direction. However, he did end up coaching the Pistons for one full season in the early seventies. In 2003, Lloyd was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame for his contributions to the game. It was a well deserved honor.

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