I learned from USA Today (it was in the NBA briefs, can’t find a link) this morning that yesterday was the 60th anniversary of Earl Lloyd joining the Washington Capitols which integrated the NBA. Yes, there was a team called the Washington Capitols (with and “o”) in the league’s early days. Red Auerbach was the first coach, but he had moved on after 1949.
Lloyd, an Alexandria native, played at West Virginia State prior to joining the Capitols. He is in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Lloyd’s stay with the Capitols was limited though; the team folded on January 9, 1951. He went on to play for the Syracuse Nationals and Detroit Pistons. ESPN has a big profile on Lloyd.
Perhaps the Washington Wizards could honor Lloyd sometime soon. Maybe I need to email Ted Leonsis. UPDATE: He says they have something in the works.
DID YOU KNOW?
There was also an ABA team called the Washington Caps in the 1970-71 season. They had been the Oakland Oaks, but moved to D.C. for a season before becoming the Virginia Squires (all links in this paragraph point to remembertheaba.com).
The second black player in the history of the NHL, Mike Marson, played for the 1974 Washington Capitals, the franchise’s first season.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Washington Redskins were the last to integrate. Bobby Mitchell became the team’s first black player after he was acquired from the Cleveland Browns for Ernie Davis. Mitchell went on to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, while Davis died of leukemia without ever playing in the NFL.