Rochester's Roots: Earl Lloyd

Rich Donnelly
Updated: February 20, 2020 05:55 PM
Created: February 20, 2020 04:01 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — There was a singular defining characteristic of all players in the early days of the NBA.... white.

Founded in 1946, there were no minorities in the Basketball Association of America, or what would become the NBA. But then, nearly four years after the league's first game, things changed.


On Halloween night in 1950 the Washington Capitals came to the Flower City to face the Rochester Royals at the Edgerton Park Arena, and with Washington came Earl Lloyd. Three black players would play in NBA games that night, but Lloyd checked into the game in Rochester first, marking the first time in history that an NBA game would be integrated.

That game was the first game of the 1950-51 season, a season in which the Royals would hang a banner by finishing as NBA champions.

It was the first professional game in a lifetime of achievements for Earl Lloyd as well. Following his playing career, Lloyd became an assistant coach with Detroit and once again he broke barriers, becoming the first black assistant coach in league history.

Lloyd's accomplishments continued long after his playing and coaching career, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003.

More than a decade after that Lloyd was recognized with a statue at his alma mater, West Virginia State University and said he was proud to be known as a person who broke barriers.

"What I do know is, it was important to me because all my life I was told, not told, but shown mostly, that you can't measure up to me,”  Lloyd said in 2014, “luckily, I found the right place for me."

 A Hall of Fame career that broke barriers, the first of which was right here in Rochester.

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