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NBA To Honor Black Pioneers

October 26, 2000

NEW YORK (AP) _ The NBA will commemorate the 50th anniversary of a black player joining its ranks with a series of special events beginning Tuesday, opening night of the season.

The celebration tips off exactly 50 years since Earl Lloyd became the first black NBA player by suiting up for the Washington Capitals. Also to be honored at Madison Square Garden before the 76ers-Knicks game will be Hank DeZonie and the late Chuck Cooper and Sweetwater Clifton.

Lloyd will conduct the ceremonial opening tip and will be joined in pregame introductions by DeZonie. Clifton’s daughter, Anita Brown, and Cooper’s son, Chuck Jr., and his widow, Irva, also will be on the court for the ceremonies.

Cooper was the first black player drafted (by Boston). Clifton was the first to sign a contract (with New York). DeZonie played five games in 1950 for the Tri-Cities Blackhawks, who later became the St. Louis and Atlanta Hawks.

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