First Culture

October 31st 1950: Earl Lloyd becomes first African American to play in the NBA

On October 31, 1950 (66 years ago) Earl Francis Lloyd became the first African American to play in a National Basketball Association (NBA) game when he took the floor for the Washington Capitols in Rochester, New York.

Born on April 3, 1928, Lloyd played at West Virginia State College, and was selected by the Washington Capitols.

Nicknamed “The Big Cat” for most of his career, Lloyd was one of three black players to enter the NBA at the same time and only fell first because of the order of the teams’ season openers scoring six points that Halloween night sixty-six years ago.

In 1993, Lloyd was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, the CIAA Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a contributor in 2003.


One of his quite impressive list of popular quotes is:

“Here I am, a young black kid — from kindergarten right through graduating from college, I never had a white classmate. And you’re born and raised in the den of segregation, you’ve been treated third-class all your life. So you tend to believe that you’re inferior. And when you walk into a pro training camp … the first thing you ask yourself, very quietly, [is] ‘Do I belong here?’ And at training camp, where it’s on, and you start scrimmaging these guys and playing against them, you know — then the bulb lights up, and tells you that you belong.”

Lloyd passed away on February 26, 2015.

Photo credits: Sbnation and FOX Sports

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October 31st 1950: Earl Lloyd becomes first African American to play in the NBA

by First Culture time to read: 1 min