While the NBA we all know and love today is primarily black; it wasn’t always like that. In fact like many professional sports leagues there was a time there was no African American athletes competing. Everyone knows the story of Jackie Robinson in 1947 but three years later 3 men set out to accomplish a similar feat in the National Basketball Association.
Chuck Cooper was the first African American to be drafted into the NBA. With the 2nd pick in the 2nd round and 14th overall Cooper was taken by the Boston Celtics 6 years before Bill Russell was even thought about. Throughout his 6 year career Cooper averaged 6.7 points per game while playing for 4 different teams.
Earl Lloyd is the man most commonly known for kicking in the door for the NBA. Earl Llyod was taken in the 9th round with the 108th overall pick by the Washington Capitals. On October 31st 1950 Earl Lloyd became the first African American to check into an NBA game. While the Capitals lost to the Rochester Royals 70-78 Lloyd made history with his 6 points. Before anyone starts hating on his scoring numbers just know it was somewhat rare for people to even score 30 during this era, pre Wilt of course.
Nat Clifton was the drafted by the Newyork Knicks in 1950. He became the first African American to sign an NBA contract and on November 4th made his NBA debut. In 1956 Nat Clifton became the second Black All star after Don Barksdale.
These three faced loads of adversity and were under tons of pressure. As the Civil rights movement was strong during this time they received death threats and were faced with loads of people that didn’t want to see them play. These players paved the way for players Like Bill Russell and the others that have come after him. Because of these nba hall of famers people value the opinions like Lebron James and they don’t have to shut up and dribble.