- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 26, 2015

Earl Lloyd, the first black player to take the floor in the NBA, died Thursday afternoon, according to the Charleston Gazette. He was 86.

Lloyd was born in Alexandria in 1928. The Washington Capitols drafted him in the ninth round in 1950. He was one of four black players to join the league that year and became the first to step onto an NBA floor because the Capitols began their season earlier than the other teams with black players. Three other black players — Chuck Cooper, Nathaniel Clifton and Hank DeZonie — played that season.

Lloyd was a 6-foot-5 forward who was known for his defense and nicknamed, “The Big Cat.” He debuted Oct. 31, 1950, one day before Cooper and four days before Clifton. Lloyd played 560 career games in the NBA, mostly with the Syracuse Nationals. He played only the 1950-51 season with Washington, which folded its team in January 1951.

He was also eventually hired to be the coach of the Detroit Pistons in 1971. The hiring made Lloyd the second black coach in the league. Bill Russell, who coached the Boston Celtics in 1966, was the first.

Lloyd also helped West Virginia State to CIAA title in 1948 and 1949. He played his high school ball at Parker-Gray School in Alexandria.



He was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 1993. In 2003, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a contributor.

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