Earl Lloyd, NBA’s First Black Player, Dead at 86
Early Lloyd, the first African-American to play in the NBA, passed away Thursday. He was 86. The cause of death is not clear at this time.
Lloyd first played in an NBA game on Halloween day in 1950 when he suited up for the Washington Capitols, which folded after he played seven games for them.
Lloyd made history as a sort of fluke. Three other African-Americans also played that same season and it just so happened that Lloyd’s team played first.
Every African-American that's ever played in the NBA owes a debt of gratitude to Earl Lloyd for opening the door for us all!
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) February 27, 2015
My condolences to the family of Earl Lloyd. He paved the way for so many of us. Thx for the memories and you will never be forgotten.
— Walt Clyde Frazier (@WaltFrazier) February 27, 2015
So sad to hear of passing of a great guy Earl Lloyd ! May he RIP
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) February 27, 2015
Lloyd, a six-five forward, averaged 8.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game in his decade-long career. He played for the Syracuse Nationals between 1952-1958 and won a title with the team in 1955.
Lloyd also played for the Detroit Pistons and would go on to become the NBA’s first black assistant coach with the team in 1968. Eventually, he served as head coach from 1971-1972.
In 2003, Lloyd, who played college ball at West Virginia State, was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame. You can see his induction speech below.
Lloyd’s death comes on the heels of the passing of Charlie Sifford, the first African-American to play on the PGA Tour.