Earl Lloyd, The First Black NBA Player Has Died
Earl Lloyd, the first Black NBA player in history, died in Crossville, Tenn at the age of 86.
Lloyd’s death was confirmed by West Virginia State University, which he attended before his NBA debut in 1950.
Lloyd’s entrance into the NBA received little attention. However, Lloyd along with Sweetwater Clifton and Chuck Cooper were pioneers for all black NBA players that followed their footsteps. Lloyd endured racism from spectators and experienced segregation in hotels and restaurants. Sometimes not be allowed to eat with or sleep where his white team members did.
Lloyd’s NBA debut came three years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier for blacks in Major League Baseball.
Lloyd was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in in 2003, being honored for breaking the NBA color barrier.
Lloyd said he had never experienced racial animosity from his teammates or opposing players, yet he remembered the taunts made by the spectators. Lloyd told The Syracuse Herald American in 1992:
‘Those fans in Indianapolis, they’d yell stuff like, ‘Go back to Africa’. My philosophy was, if they weren’t calling you names, you weren’t doing nothing. If they’re calling you names, you were hurting them.”
Lloyd also recounted how a hotel manager in Baltimore refused to give him a room during a Nationals trip in the early 1950s. Despite the protests of Al Cervi (Lloyd’s coach), he still left the hotel in an effort to avoid trouble.
In the book They Cleared the Lane: The N.B.A.’s Black Pioneers, Cervi is quoted as saying:
“I owe Earl a lot of thanks. He’s an unsung star. Anybody can score. Lloyd was an excellent defensive player. That was No. 1 on my roster.”
Lloyd is survived by his wife, Charlita, sons, Kenneth, Kevin and David and four grandchildren.
This post was written by Reginald Calhoun. He is a junior Mass Media Arts major at Clark Atlanta University. Follow him on Twitter @IRMarsean.