DALLAS – Dallas Mavericks center Tyson Chandler paused after Friday’s practice to pay respect to Earl Lloyd, who died Thursday at the age of 86.
Lloyd broke the color barrier when he became the first African-American to play in the NBA. Lloyd’s historic event occurred in October of 1950 when he played for the Washington Capitols.
While the financial payoff for players in Lloyd’s era was small, Chandler realizes that the Alexandria, VA, native opened the doors for him to make millions and live a life of luxury.
"Any time you lose a legend and a pioneer, somebody that paved the way, especially for us, you’ve got to give a little moment of silence and thank you in your prayers,’’ Chandler said. "Because if it wasn’t for him and others in that generation, we wouldn’t be here.’’
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NBA commissioner Adam Silver issued a statement regarding the death of Lloyd.
"The NBA family has lost one of its patriarchs,’’ Silver’s statement said. "Earl Lloyd, the first African-American to play in an NBA game, was as inspirational as he was understated.
"He was known as a modest gentleman who played the game with skill, class, and pride. His legacy survives in the league he helped integrate, and the entire NBA family will strive to always honor his memory. Our deepest condolences to the Lloyd family."
A 6-6, 220-pound forward, Lloyd played from 1950-’60 and averaged 8.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.