On Oct. 31, 1950, Earl Lloyd walked onto an NBA court as a member of the Washington Capitols and had six points and 10 rebounds in what was an eight-point loss to the Rochester Royals. That’s not why the game will be remembered.
That was the night Lloyd broke the NBA’s color barrier, becoming the first black man to play in the league.
Lloyd passed away Thursday at the age of 86. This has been confirmed by his alma mater West Virginia State, as well as by the NBA.
“The NBA family has lost one of its patriarchs,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. ” Earl Lloyd, the first African-American to play in an NBA game, was as inspirational as he was understated. He was known as a modest gentleman who played the game with skill, class, and pride. His legacy survives in the league he helped integrate, and the entire NBA family will strive to always honor his memory. Our deepest condolences to the Lloyd family.”
The 6’5″ forward spent nine seasons in the NBA, averaging 8.4 points and 6.4 rebounds. He won a title in 1955 with the Syracuse Nationals. In2003 he was elected to the Hall of Fame for his contributions to the sport. He also spent one season as an NBA coach in Detroit. He broke the color barrier that season along with Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton and Chuck Cooper
Our thoughts are with his family and friends.