Wednesday, September 6, 2017

I ran across something interesting yesterday.  I received a copy of LAPCHICK: THE LIFE OF A LEGENDARY PLAYER AND COACH IN THE GLORY DAYS OF THE NBA and just read the description of the May, 1950 NBA Board of Governors meeting which addressed the possible integration of the league.  Here is a summary of the events that I typed up for my own notes -

"In March 1950 at the NBA Board of Governors meeting at the league office in New York, New York Knicks’ President Ned Irish informed his fellow owners that the Knicks planned to sign African-American Nat Clifton to a contract for the 1950-51 season.  Clifton, a 27-year-old veteran of the New York Rens and Harlem Globetrotters, posed a serious problem for the assembled owners.  Baltimore and Indianapolis were segregated cities at the time and could be expected to vote against allowing blacks. Philadelphia owner Eddie Gottlieb was strongly opposed because of his close ties with the Globetrotters and his concern that fans would not accept the league when it became predominantly African-American. Boston owner Walter Brown informed his fellow owners that the Celtics were also planning to add a black player in the upcoming season. After a heated discussion, the vote was taken and Tri-Cities and Minneapolis joined Baltimore, Indianapolis, and Philadelphia in their opposition, while Boston and New York were joined by Fort Wayne, Rochester, Syracuse and Washington and the resolution passed 6-5. A month later, on April 25, the NBA conducted its annual draft with Boston selecting Chuck Cooper with the first pick in round two, and Washington choosing Earl Lloyd New York in the ninth round.  One day after the draft Syracuse signed Harold Hunter, their 10th round selection and New York finally signed Clifton on May 24, making them the first two African-Americans to sign contracts. On October 31, 1950 Lloyd became the first African-American to appear in a game as he scored six points for Syracuse.  Cooper and Clifton made their debuts the next night and Hank DeZonie, who was one of several blacks to play in the NBL, signed with Tri-City on December 3, making his debut that night."