Pioneer Earl Lloyd Opened The Doors of the NBA
There I was on my comfy couch, feet up on the ottoman, catching the captivating double-header that TNT is featuring. The first matchup consisted of an MVP-race showdown between LeBron’s Cavs vs. Steph Curry’s Warriors.
Although underwhelming, it led to arguably one of the best games of the season: the Kevin Durant-less Thunder vs. the now Dragic-less Phoenix Suns. The game consisted of Russell Westbrook (who has been outperforming any player in the league for the past month) dropping a triple double as well as his main competitor, Eric Bledsoe messing around and acquiring a near triple double of his own. While the game was captivating in itself, heading into overtime with an arguable no-call on Westbrook at the end, what caught my eye the most was the “Inside The NBA” crew discussion at halftime during the Suns/Thunder game.
The crew discussed the tragic news involving the death of NBA pioneer, Earl Lloyd. Lloyd created the path for all of our favorite basketball players to ever step foot on the hardwood.
The first African-American player to play in the NBA died at the age of 86 on Thursday, February 26th. His career was beyond impressive. Fighting against racism and for his civil rights typically at every arena, Lloyd stepped into the NBA in 1950 and established himself as a key shutdown defender.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver stated, “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.”
I can’t seem to fathom a world of basketball without Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, or Allen Iverson. Earl Lloyd set the stage for our favorite athletes to develop and prosper, and for that we appreciate what this Hall of Famer coming out of West Virginia State has done for the game Dr. James Naismith blessed us with over 120 years ago. I mean after all, he helped the only Syracuse NBA team, The Nats, win their first and only championship in 1955.