Earl Lloyd and Sean Kirst
Read review from SLAM Magazine (PDF)
"Lloyd is a trailblazing figure, often overlooked for his contribution to basketball and more. He was the first African-American the play in the NBA, suiting up for the Washington Capitols for the 1950 season. (Three other African-American players hit the hardwood that season, too, but Lloyd played first.) Lloyd, who spent most of his career with the Syracuse Nationals, suffered indignities such as being left home when the Nats played an exhibition in South Carolina. But when Lloyd hears the inevitable Jackie Robinson comparison, he just calls Robinson his hero."
—New York Post
Listen to WRVO (Oswego NY) interview with Sean Kirst:
Local Author Talks of First Black NBA Player’s Connection to Syracuse
In 1950, future Hall of Famer Earl Lloyd became the first African American to play in a National Basketball Association game. A warm and gracious man, widely loved and respected, Lloyd has lived what he describes as an "incredible journey" and has spent eighty years gathering passionate lessons from that experience.
He was born in Virginia, a state he describes as "the cradle of segregation," only sixty-two years after the end of the Civil War. Nicknamed "Moonfixer" in college, Lloyd led West Virginia State to two CIAA Conference and Tournament Championships and was named All-American twice. One of three African Americans to enter the NBA at that time, Lloyd played seven games for the Washington Capitals before the team folded. He joined the Syracuse Nationals for six seasons and later played for the Detroit Pistons before he retired in 1961.
Throughout his career, he quietly endured the overwhelming slights and exclusions that went with being black in America. Yet he has also lived to see basketball—a demonstration of art, power, and pride—become the black national pastime and to witness the inauguration of Barack Obama. In a series of extraordinary conversations with Sean Kirst, Lloyd reveals his fierce determination to succeed, his frustration with the plight of many young black men, and his sincere desire for the nation to achieve true equality among its citizens.
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Sean Kirst is a columnist for the Post-Standard in Syracuse, New York. He was a contributing editor for Empire State Report, a political magazine in New York, and he is the author of The Ashes of Lou Gehrig. Kirst was awarded the 2008 Ernie Pyle Journalism Award for human interest writing, given by the Scripps Howard Foundation to the one newspaper writer nationwide who most exemplifies the works of Pyle, a famed World War II correspondent.
6 x 9, 152 pages, 25 black and white illustrations, index