earl lloyd
*(Via MSN News) – Earl Lloyd, the first African-American to play in the NBA, died Thursday in Detroit. He was 86.

Lloyd’s career wasn’t particularly spectacular — a 6’5 small forward he averaged 8.4 points and 6.4 rebounds over nine seasons — but his importance was bigger than basketball. Lloyd won the 1955 NBA championship with the Syracuse Nationals and also coached the Detroit Pistons in 1971-72. He was inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame as a contributor in 2003.

Lloyd was one of three black players to join the league at the beginning of the 1950-51 season alongside Chuck Cooper of the Celtics and Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton of the Knicks. The fact that Lloyd played before the other two was a matter of scheduling. Cooper passed away in 1984, Clifton in 1990.

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