Culture of Hoops

Earl Lloyd: The First Black Player to Ever Grace the NBA Hardwood Passes

Earl Lloyd, the first black player to play in the NBA, died on Thursday at the age of 86. Tom Leyden of WXYZ in Detroit confirmed.

His alma mater, West Virginia State issued a statement about Lloyd’s passing

The State family mourns the loss of a fellow Yellow Jacket and trailblazer who was a true champion both on and off of the basketball court,” West Virginia State president Brian Hemphill said in a statement. “When Earl stepped out on the court on that fateful date in 1950, this remarkable man rightfully earned his place in the historic civil rights movement and, more important, he opened the door to equality in America.”

Lloyd played nine years in the league from 1950 to 1960. He appeared in 560 games, averaging 8.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists a night. He won an NBA title with the Syracuse Nationals in 1954-55.

He retired from the game and went on to become the first black assistant coach in NBA history, joining the Detroit Pistons’ staff in 1968.

Lloyd made his NBA debut back in 1950 for the Washington Capitals. Later, he was joined by Black players Sweetwater Clifton and Chuck Cooper later.

Lloyd was inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame by Dave Bing

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