Earl Lloyd

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Earl Lloyd
Earl Lloyd - CIAA HOF Brunch - 1-3-06.jpg
Lloyd, right, shakes hands with Walter E. Gaskin in January 2006
Personal information
Born (1928-04-03)April 3, 1928
Alexandria, Virginia[1]
Died February 26, 2015(2015-02-26) (aged 86)
Crossville, Tennessee
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Listed weight 225 lb (102 kg)
Career information
High school Parker-Gray (Alexandria, Virginia)
College West Virginia State (1946–1950)
NBA draft 1950 / Round: 9 / Pick: 100th overall
Selected by the Washington Capitols
Playing career 1950–1960
Position Small forward
Number 11, 8, 17
Career history
As player:
1950–1951 Washington Capitols
19521958 Syracuse Nationals
19581960 Detroit Pistons
As coach:
1971–1972 Detroit Pistons
Career highlights and awards
Career statistics
Points 4,682 (8.4 ppg)
Rebounds 3,609 (6.4 rpg)
Assists 810 (1.4 apg)
Stats at Basketball-Reference.com
Basketball Hall of Fame

Earl Francis Lloyd (April 3, 1928 – February 26, 2015) was an American professional basketball player. He was the first black player to have played a game in the National Basketball Association.[2]

Early life

Earl Lloyd was born in Alexandria, Virginia on April 3, 1928. His parents were Theodore Lloyd, Sr. and Daisy Lloyd. His father worked in the coal industry and his mother was a stay-at-home mom. Being a high school standout, Lloyd was named to the All-South Atlantic Conference three times and the All-State Virginia Interscholastic Conference twice. Lloyd did attend a segregated school, but gives gratitude to his family and educators for helping him through the tough times and his success after school. Lloyd was a 1946 graduate of Parker-Grey High School and received a scholarship to play basketball at West Virginia State, home of the Yellow Jackets. In school he was nicknamed "Moon Fixer" because of his size and was known as a defensive specialist.[3]

College career

Lloyd led West Virginia State to two CIAA Conference and Tournament Championships in 1948 and 1949. He was named All-Conference three times (1948–50) and was All-American twice, as named by the Pittsburgh Courier (1949–50). As a senior, he averaged 14 points and 8 rebounds per game, while leading West Virginia State to a second-place finish in the CIAA Conference and Tournament Championship. In 1947–48, West Virginia State was the only undefeated team in the United States.

NBA career

Nicknamed "The Big Cat", Lloyd was one of three black players to enter the NBA at the same time. It was only because of the order in which the team's season openers fell that Lloyd was the first to actually play in a game in the NBA scoring six points that Halloween night.[4] The date was October 31, 1950, one day ahead of Chuck Cooper of the Boston Celtics and four days before Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton of the New York Knicks. Lloyd played in over 560 games in nine seasons, the 6-foot-5, 225-pound forward averaged 8.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. He played in only seven games for the Washington Capitols before the team folded on January 9, 1951. He was then drafted into the U.S. Army at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, before the Syracuse Nationals picked him up on waivers. Lloyd served time fighting in the Korean War before coming back to basketball. In the 1953–54 season, Lloyd led the NBA in both personal fouls and disqualifications.[5] His best year was 1955, when he averaged 10.2 points and 7.7 rebounds for Syracuse, which beat the Fort Wayne Pistons 4-3 for the NBA title. Lloyd and Jim Tucker were the first African-Americans to play on an NBA championship team. He then spent six seasons with Syracuse and two with the Detroit Pistons before retiring in 1961.[6]

Regarding the racism black players faced in the early years of the NBA, Lloyd recalled being refused service multiple times and an incident where a fan in Indiana spit on him. However, Lloyd persevered and said that these instances only pushed him and made him play harder.[3]

Lloyd once said; "In 1950, basketball was like a babe in the woods; it didn't enjoy the notoriety that baseball enjoyed."[citation needed]

Coaching tenure and post-NBA

According to Detroit News sportswriter Jerry Green, in 1965 Detroit Pistons General Manager Don Wattrick wanted to hire Lloyd as the team's head coach.[citation needed] Dave DeBusschere was instead named Pistons player–coach. Lloyd was the first African-American assistant coach and was named head coach for the 1971-72 season, making him the third African-American head coach, after John McLendon and Bill Russell. [4] After starting the 1972-73 season off with a 2-5 record, Lloyd was fired. He had an overall record of 22-55 with the Pistons.[7] Lloyd also worked for the Pistons as a scout for five seasons.[4]

After his basketball career, Lloyd worked during the 1970s and 1980s as a job placement administrator for the Detroit public school system. During this time, Lloyd also ran programs for underprivileged children teaching job skills. He served as Community Relations Director for the Bing Group, a Detroit manufacturing company in the 1990s. He retired in 1999 and moved to Tennessee with his wife.[3] He was even approached by a young African-American player who said he was indebted to Lloyd for opening the doors for future generations of black players with Lloyd replying that he owed him absolutely nothing.[8]

NBA career statistics

  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high
Denotes season in which Lloyd won an NBA championship

Regular season

1950–51 Washington 7 .457 .846 6.7 1.6 6.1
1952–53 Syracuse 64 28.2 .344 .693 6.9 1.0 7.4
1953–54 Syracuse 72 30.6 .374 .746 7.3 1.6 9.1
1954–55 Syracuse 72 30.7 .365 .750 7.7 2.1 10.2
1955–56 Syracuse 72 25.5 .335 .772 6.8 1.6 8.5
1956–57 Syracuse 72 27.3 .373 .749 6.0 1.6 9.0
1957–58 Syracuse 61 17.1 .331 .745 4.7 1.0 5.2
1958–59 Detroit 72 24.9 .349 .753 6.9 1.3 8.4
1959–60 Detroit 68 23.7 .356 .800 4.7 1.3 8.9
Career 560 26.2 .356 .750 6.4 1.4 8.4


1953 Syracuse 2 36.5 .235 .700 4.5 2.5 7.5
1954 Syracuse 10 26.0 .342 .654 5.7 2.0 6.7
1955 Syracuse 11 32.3 .361 .750 8.1 3.2 11.5
1956 Syracuse 8 21.5 .321 .929 5.4 0.9 8.1
1957 Syracuse 5 16.6 .400 .636 4.2 1.0 6.2
1958 Syracuse 3 10.7 .357 2.7 0.0 3.3
1959 Detroit 3 29.0 .321 1.000 6.0 2.3 8.7
1960 Detroit 2 26.5 .250 .625 4.5 1.5 8.5
Career 44 25.3 .337 .744 5.8 1.9 8.1

Head coaching record

Regular season G Games coached W Games won L Games lost W–L % Win–loss %
Post season PG Playoff games PW Playoff wins PL Playoff losses PW–L % Playoff win–loss %
Team Year G W L W–L% Finish PG PW PL PW–L% Result
Detroit 1971–72 70 20 50 .286 6th in Midwest Missed Playoffs
Detroit 1972–73 7 2 5 .286 (fired)
Career 77 22 55 .286

Personal life

Lloyd and his wife, Charlita, have three sons,[9] and four grandchildren. Lloyd resided in Fairfield Glade, Tennessee, just outside Crossville, until his death in February 2015.[10]


Lloyd meets Vice-President Joe Biden at the White House.

Lloyd was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 1993 and the CIAA Hall of Fame in 1998.[3]

In 2003, Lloyd was inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a contributor.[11]

Lloyd was named to the NAIA Silver and Golden Anniversary Teams.[11]

On December 1, 2007, the newly constructed basketball court at T. C. Williams High School in Lloyd's home town of Alexandria, Virginia, was named in his honor. Lloyd actually attended Parker-Gray High School, as Alexandria's schools were racially-segregated at the time. T.C. Williams—the subject of the motion picture Remember the Titans—was created as a combined, desegregated school two decades later.[9]

In November 2009, Moonfixer: The Basketball Journey of Earl Lloyd, was released. Lloyd wrote this biography with Syracuse area writer, Sean Kirst.

In 2014, a statue of Earl Lloyd was erected and is on display at West Virginia State University in the Walker Convocation Center. That same year, the Earl Lloyd Classic began, hosted at West Virginia State to kick off the basketball season. In 2018, the road that runs in front of the Convocation Center was renamed to Earl Lloyd Way.

In 2015 Lloyd, along with fellow basketball player Alonzo Mourning, was one of eight Virginians honored in the Library of Virginia's "Strong Men & Women in Virginia History" because of his contributions to the sport of basketball.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Strong Men & Women in Virginia History biography page". Library of Virginia. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
  2. ^ Ramsey, David (February 16, 2005). "Earl Lloyd: A Basketball Pioneer". NBA.com/Sixers. Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. Retrieved September 23, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d Earl Lloyd, "Earl Lloyd National Visionary," National Visionary Leadership Project, accessed April 10, 2015
  4. ^ a b c "Earl Lloyd. Britannica Online (n.d.) Britannica Online, EBSCOhost
  5. ^ The Official NBA Basketball Encyclopedia. Villard Books. 1994. p. 379. ISBN 0-679-43293-0.
  6. ^ Earl Lloyd and Sean Kirst, Moonfixer: The Basketball Journey of Earl Lloyd.Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2010. Project Muse, EBSCOhost accessed March 26, 2015.
  7. ^ Associated Press,-, "Earl Lloyd, first black player in NBA, dies at 86," AP Top News Package (Feb. 27, 2015): McClatchy-Tribune Collection, EBSCOhost, accessed March 25, 2015
  8. ^ Phil Taylor and Ted Keith, "Earl Lloyd 1928–2015," Sports Illustrated, March 9, 2015, 14. Corporate ResourceNet, EBSCOhost assessed March 24, 2015
  9. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-06-09. Retrieved 2007-11-24.
  10. ^ Goldstein, Richard (February 27, 2015), "Earl Lloyd, N.B.A.'s First Black Player, Dies at 86", The New York Times
  11. ^ a b Hall of Fame Biography Archived 2009-08-31 at the Wayback Machine.

Further reading

  • Kirst, Sean (October 20, 2010). "Earl Lloyd: In basketball, history's go-to guy". The Post Standard.

External links

  • Earl Lloyd at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
  • BasketballReference.com: Earl Lloyd (as coach)
  • BasketballReference.com: Earl Lloyd (as player)
  • Earl Lloyd's oral history video excerpts at The National Visionary Leadership Project
  • Biography of Earl Lloyd at the Library of Virginia's Strong Men & Women in Virginia History page
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