COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Everyone knows who Jackie Robinson is and the trials and tribulations that he endured to break the color barrier in American baseball. However, few people recognize an equally determined man and his accomplishments in doing the same thing for professional basketball.
In 1950, Earl Lloyd became the first African-American to play in an NBA game when his Washington Capitols took on the Rochester Royals. The game would mark the start of nine seasons for Lloyd in uniform, prefacing his career as an NBA coach.
Now a member of the prestigious Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, Lloyd played for the Capitols for seven games before the franchise went under, and spent the remainder of his career with the Syracuse Nationals (now the Philadelphia 76ers) and the Detroit Pistons. He eventually made his coaching debut as an assistant coach for the Pistons.
To honor Earl Lloyd for his accomplishments, Tennessee Tech University’s Mike Sutton (Men’s Basketball Coach) and Dr. Robert Owens (Director of Minority Affairs) have planned a gathering to “Celebrate 60” with Earl Lloyd.
The event will be held in the Hooper Eblen Center on Oct. 31, as Lloyd and his wife reside in Crossville and have grown to be close friends of Tennessee Tech University and fans of Tech Athletics. Coach Sutton will act as the emcee for the event, while speakers will include University President Dr. Robert Bell, Special Assistant to the Commissioner of the NBA Bob Lanier, and Earl Lloyd himself.
In addition to the celebration on Sunday, Tennessee Tech plans to honor Lloyd by starting a charitable foundation. All gifts will be directed to scholarship and educational entities in his honor.