The second round of the NBA playoffs is in full swing. Names like back to back MVP, Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Paul Peirce, Dwight Howard, Shaquille O’Neal, just roll off the tongue. But sixty years ago this was not the case at all.
In the land of the free, home of the brave, the National Basketball Association was completely blacked out, one hundred percent devoid of color. But in 1950 three pioneers forever changed the game.
Who was the first “nonwhite” to enter the NBA? The answer is somewhat complicated. Was it Earl Lloyd, Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton, or Chuck Cooper? Lloyd actually became the first “nonwhite” to play in a game when he took the floor against Rochester Royals in 1950. His team’s season started earlier than the other two. Clifton made history when he signed a contract and made a NBA team in the same year. Then Cooper broke a barrier when he became the first “nonwhite” ever drafted by a NBA team.
Earl Francis Lloyd was born April 3, 1928 in Alexandria Virginia. He played for West Virginia State College at the forward position and became respected as a defensive threat. Lloyd led his team to two CIAA titles in 1948 and 1949. He was dubbed the “Big Cat” as a NBA player.He enjoyed nine seasons, playing in more than 500 games, averaging, 8.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.