Eric Mayo is one of the toughest players in the CIAA, helping the Livingstone Blue Bears win back to back championships. His defining moment may be a 19 point come from behind victory against Winston-Salem State on senior night in Salisbury. It was a personal loss that inspired that win and another CIAA Title. Photos courtesy: Erin Mizelle, TVOne, News and Observer, The Shelby Star.
I was getting ready to broadcast a basketball game at the CIAA Tournament on Thursday night when the P.A. announcer came on and asked for a moment of silence because of the passing of Earl Lloyd.
I was stunned.Lloyd
I immediately jumped online and to that point there was no mention of his passing. It was that fresh.
Because of the snow there was somewhat of a sparse crowd at the Time Warner Cable Arena that evening. When the announcement was made, I didn’t hear much of a reaction. (Then again, I did have my headphones on.) Which led me to wonder, how many people knew who Earl Lloyd was and what his significance was to the NBA and society at large?
I first met Mr. Lloyd in 2007 at the CIAA Tournament. I just remember him being the nicest man, very warm, friendly and just laid back cool. He was a guest on FROM THE PRESS BOX TO PRESS ROW a month later. We talked about how he played in the second CIAA Tournament (in 1947) and how the tournament had continued to grow.
“For me to see how it has evolved to this point, it’s really heart-warming,” he said during his 2007 appearance on BOXTOROW. “I’m not a blubberer but it moves you to tears man to have seen this thing and see how it is now.”
From the first time we met and when he came on my show, we began to build a bit of a friendship. I gave me his home number and he told me I could call anytime. Over the next couple of years at the CIAA Tournament, he would also join me at halftime during various broadcasts I was involved in.
It didn’t matter that where he sat was clear across the arena from my location. I went to go and escort him over to our broadcast location once and it took us every bit of 20 minutes to get from his seat to our location with quite a few people wanting to stop and shake his hand or hold a conversation. He was tall and lean and walked pretty good – not fast but certainly not slow – to be 80 at that time.
I remember him giving me a lot of praise and compliments on and off the air. He said he was proud of what I was doing. He was appreciative of the fact that I took interest in him.
I could not believe that this man, a pioneer, a former NBA player and 2003 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee was saying these things about me.
For those that don’t know Earl Lloyd was the first Black player to play in the NBA when he made his debut with the Washington Capitols on October 31, 1950. He was the first Black player – along with teammate Jim Tucker – to win an NBA championship with the Syracuse Nationals in 1955. He was also the first Black assistant coach in the NBA with the Detroit Pistons in 1968.
Earl Lloyd was a pioneer.
Before that, he was a star at then West Virginia State College – at that time a member of the CIAA – where he led the Yellow Jackets to two CIAA Tournament championships in 1948 and 1949 and was named All-CIAA for three years.
A month ago I said to myself I need to call and check in on Mr. Lloyd. Needless to say, I did not. Sometimes it’s important to take time out of the hustle and bustle of your own life just to check on others, particularly when you’re thinking about them.
Upon Mr. Lloyd’s passing a friend of mine, who I had talked with about Mr. Lloyd over the years about the impression he left on me and who knew who he was, text me and said he was sad to hear about his passing. I told him yeah me too and it sucks because I had been saying I was going to call him. My friend said “Don’t beat yourself up. If not for you in some circles he would’ve been forgotten by some of us.”
That made me feel a little better.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement: “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.”
Understated. That’s who he was.
That’s one of the things we try to do here on BOXTOROW is highlight and interview those that are history makers and have paved the way for others. I remember having Wayne Embry – the first Black general manager in the NBA – on three years ago and how much he appreciated the interview and him thanking me for making people aware of him being a history maker.
It’s a bit apropos that Mr. Lloyd passed in February as we celebrated Black History Month. Fortunately, we have been able to perhaps shed some light on history makers like Willie O’Ree, Ozzie Newsome, Art Shell, Cito Gaston, more recently Lou Brock and many, many others through our BHM celebration http://www.boxtorow.com/blackhistory.php
Hopefully others that are up in age (there are some that we have reached out to but I will not mention in this space) will let us tell their stories, perhaps in a way that those stories have never been told, before we will not be able to do so.
Just like Earl Lloyd so graciously allowed us to do.
Our fascinating interview with Earl Lloyd from 2007 will air on FROM THE PRESS BOX TO PRESS ROW w/ Donal Ware Friday 1p ET/12p CT/11a MT/10a PT on SiriusXM Channel 141 and this weekend on these radio stations across the country www.boxtorow.com/affiliates.php
JCSU Alum Shannon Cross shines a light on Riverdale Baptist basketball coach Louis Wilson and his son Bryan, an assistant basketball coach at Bowie State University. Bryan Wilson is a former basketball player at Riverdale Baptist and Bowie State University.
ATLANTA- The old scuttlebutt is mixing with Atlanta’s rare frigid weather (that’s cool, as long as the snow stays away) about the possibility of a bowl game between the champs of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) against the champs of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). The mix would take place at the Georgia Dome. I would speculate that the organizers from both conferences are eyeing moving from the Dome to Atlanta’s new stadium which is scheduled to be finished by 2017 and that’s not beyond the realm of reality. When the current Georgia Dome opened on September 6, 1992, the Atlanta Classic, sponsored by the vaulted brethren of the Atlanta Chapter of 100 Black Men of America, brought the first college game to the new facility. Southern edged South Carolina State 19-18 on September 19.
The Fan Forum of this website has been very active around the MEAC/SWAC buzz and has been met with mixed feelings from both sides
I share those mixed feelings.
I do applaud the conferences for at least looking forward to the idea of some post-season play for our schools. It’s shameful that none of the organizers of the 35 bowl games sponsored this last season haven’t seen fit to reach out to our HBCUs despite many of them having great records and above average programs. I have always advocated we need to learn a lesson from our ancestors. When they got locked out of post-season grid action, they created THEIR OWN. Since the 1920s, the bloods from the black schools played in such post-season contests as the Prairie View Bowl (1929-1961), the Steel City Classic (later renamed the Vulcan Bowl) in Birmingham Alabama, the Yam Bowl in Dallas, Texas played on Christmas Day, the Angel Bowl played in Los Angeles, the Orange Blossom Classic played in December for many years, the Gate City Bowl which played only one game in 1974, two All Star Games played in New Orleans Superdome in 1980-81, the Heritage Bowl played in Atlanta , the Freedom Bowl played at the old Atlanta Stadium in the early `1980s, the Pioneer Bowl started in 1998 and a short-lived All-Star game which played its only two games in 2010 in Montgomery, Alabama and 2011 at the Georgia Dome.
But I do have concerns about the game itself. If you involve two of the four black college football conferences, then what about the CIAA and the SIAC? The game after all is being played in Atlanta., home to two of the 10 football-playing colleges in the SIAC. Do you leave them sitting on the sidelines? Can you justify declaring the winner of a MEAC-SWAC bowl as national champs (as I understand the game will be labeled) without involving the other two conferences?
I studied this and have come up with a possible solution that would involve everyone.
The CIAA and SIAC already have a bowl of their own called the Pioneer. Now, the game hasn’t been played for two years and the organizers have left the possibility of renewing the classic for 2015 up in the air. If they do play that game this year and the MEAC/SWAC game follows, what’s to stop a third ballgame featuring the champs of both games in either Atlanta or another city (say Birmingham or Charlotte) playing HBCU SuperBowl- type contest?
I see possibilities and lots of dollar bills for schools in all four conferences.
Think about it.
SIAC BASKETBALL: At last, Clark-AU head basketball coach Tony Lamarr , in his first full season as the Panther’s pilot, can breathe a little easier these days now that the Panthers successfully busted that nerve-wracking nine game losing streak.After a promising three game stand from January 26 through the 31st collapsed with back-to-back losses to Paine, Benedict and Morehouse, plus a road loss to Albany State to begin the February slate, the Panthers knocked off Fort Valley 88-84 and then handed Claflin a 67-62 loss , significant since Claflin is in third place in the SIAC east .
The Panthers hope to extend their two game win streak this week with games at Paine February 12, then travel to Columbia, South Carolina to face Benedict before returning home February 14 to face Kentucky State. Morehouse, meanwhile, may have their head coach Grady Brewer and his staff a little puzzled. The Maroon Tigers, 11-8 overall and 9-3 in conference play, seem to be playing hot and cold basketball the last two weeks. First, they lose to Benedict College at home by nine points on January 26. Three days later, they upset Paine College at home 62-61. They defeat CAU two days later at the Panthers’ LS Epps gym by 10 two days later but then lose to Fort Valley, last in the SIAC east, 60-58 on the road. They return to their Forbes gym and beat Albany State 70-68 which allows them to hang on to second place in the conference’s eastern wing.
Whether they can continue in that position let along overtake Paine at the top of the key is the big question on the minds of Morehouse die-hards, especially after their most recent 86-69 loss to Claflin. Now, they hit the road for a scheduled Thursday clash with Benedict . The Tigers, third in the SIAC east, have won 6 of their last 7 games , one of them 69-60 over Morehouse in Atlanta January 26. The Tigers return home Monday the 16th facing Fort Valley.
The Clark-AU women, meanwhile, are struggling to free themselves from their 5 game losing bog, three of them coming in the last five days. To their credit, two of those to Albany State and Claflin were cliffhangers by two points. Vanesaa Moore and the ladies will attempt to climb back into the winners circle, started with Paine on the 12th, Benedict on the 14th and a home tilt vs. Albany State on the 16th.
Elsewhere, LeMoyne –Owens’ Magician men saw their four game win streak broken last week with a 10 point loss to Lane……Paine College looked almost unbeatable just a week ago until their loss to Morehouse in Atlanta on January 29th. Then two days later at Benedict, they lost to the Tigers by 11 points for their first back-to-back losses of the season.
The losing funk for the Lions was temporary, however. They bounced back with wins over Claflin February 5, then Fort Valley on the 7th.Bahhur
XTRA POINTS: Ted Bahhur, the former Clark-AU head football coach who once threatened a lawsuit against the school after he was fired in the middle of the 2009 season, is now coaching at his alma-mater Kent State……….