Sports

Earl Lloyd, N.B.A.’s First Black Player, Dies at 86

FILE - In this Apirl 23, 2003, file photo, Earl Lloyd is honored at halftime of the Detroit Pistons-Orlando Magic NBA basketball playoff game in Auburn Hills, Mich. Lloyd, the first black player in NBA history, died Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. He was 86. Lloyd's alma mater, West Virginia State, confirmed the death. It did not provide details. Lloyd made his NBA debut in 1950 for the Washington Capitals, just before fellow black players Sweetwater Clifton and Chuck Cooper played their first games. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
FILE – In this Apirl 23, 2003, file photo, Earl Lloyd is honored at halftime of the Detroit Pistons-Orlando Magic NBA basketball playoff game in Auburn Hills, Mich. Lloyd, the first black player in NBA history, died Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. He was 86. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

Richard Goldstein, THE NEW YORK TIMES

DETROIT (The New York Times)—Earl Lloyd, who became the first black player to appear in an N.B.A. game when he took the court for the Washington Capitols in October 1950, three and a half years after Jackie Robinson broke modern major league baseball’s color barrier, died on Thursday in Crossville, Tenn. He was 86.

His death was announced by West Virginia State University, where he played before joining the N.B.A.

When Lloyd made his N.B.A. debut, pro basketball was an afterthought on the national sports scene. Lloyd’s milestone appearance received little attention. But Lloyd and three other black players who appeared in N.B.A. lineups soon afterward were nonetheless pioneers, enduring racist jeers from spectators in some cities as well as segregated hotel and restaurant accommodations.


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