Earl Lloyd was the first Black person to play in the National Basketball Association. Lloyd made his historic debut in the NBA on October 31, 1950, during a time when many American institutions were still segregated.
Lloyd is remembered for being a trail-blazer for African-Americans in the NBA. What other contributions did he give to the world?
Here’s a list of things you may not have known about Earl Loyd:
1. Not Exactly First?
Lloyd considers himself the second Black player in the NBA, given that Chuck Cooper had been drafted in the second round while he had been picked in the ninth. His status as the first Black player on the court, he said, was only due to a “scheduling quirk” that meant his team played before the others. [BleacherReport.com]
2. College All-Star
Lloyd was a two-time All-American selection at West Virginia State where he helped lead his school to an undefeated 30-0 season in 1947-48, a conference championship and an unofficial “national champions” status as voted by several Black newspapers. [HoopHall.com]
3. Benched By Racism
Lloyd said he was rarely allowed to go into restaurants or hotels with his white teammates. While playing for Syracuse during the 1952-53 season, he wasn’t allowed to play at a preseason game at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, because he was Black. The Nationals still played the game, and to this day it pains Lloyd that none of his teammates showed any remorse. [NYTimes.com]
In 1968, Lloyd became the NBA’s first Black assistant coach with Detroit. [NYTimes.com]
5. Army Man
After seven games with the Capitols, Lloyd was drafted into the military and sent to Korea for two years. When he returned to the United States, the Capitols had gone out of business, and so he went to play for the Syracuse Nationals (who later became the Philadelphia 76ers).