Earl Lloyd, First African-American NBA Player Dead at 86
NBA fans received late Thursday sad news of the passing of NBA’s first African-American player, Earl Lloyd.
Lloyd’s family informed WXYZ that the NBA legend passed away around 1 p.m.
He was the first of three African-American players to join the NBA in the 1950-51 season. He was drafted by the Washington Capitols in the ninth round after playing for the West Virginia State College as a forward.
Marc Spears of Yahoo! tweeted his appreciation for the NBA legend.
There is no NBA player that I appreciated meeting, interviewing & spending time with than Hall of Famer Earl Lloyd. Class. Humble. Pioneer.
— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) February 27, 2015
Lloyd is NBA’s Jackie Robinson
Lloyd is NBA’s version of Jackie Robinson, but his status and contribution to the path laid flat for succeeding legends Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan seem to be buried in the memory of the league’s fans. His position on this matter is that of nonchalance and humility. Lloyd is remembered to have said in an NBA interview that he did not mind having a lower profile compared to Robinson in terms of historical achievement, as standing beside him would just make him “nervous.”
NBA’s interview also noted Lloyd saying, “If you could have lunch with anybody who ever lived on the earth, anybody in his right mind would have to pick lunch with Jesus Christ. Man, I would love to pick his brain.”
Bill Plaschke of the L.A. Times reminds everyone of Lloyd’s achievements on and off the court. He expressed his grief with a tweet.
Sadly, guessing most folks didn’t even know Earl Lloyd was officially first African American in NBA..RIP to an underrated great. — Bill Plaschke (@BillPlaschke) February 27, 2015
Lloyd retired with Detroit Pistons ranked 43rd with a score total of 4,682 in his 10-year playing career.
He is survived by his wife, Charlita, three sons, and four grandchildren.