African-Americans began to play basketball in the early 1900’s. Due to racism and “Jim Crow” laws these black players started, “barnstorming” around the country to play anyone who would challenge them. They played with military teams, college teams to company teams. They literally honed their skills on the playgrounds of our country and eventually found their way to professional leagues and professional teams with white players.
In 1950, with the formation of the National Basketball Association drafted and opened the door to four black players: Earl Lloyd, Chuck Cooper and Sweetwater Clifton and Hank Dezonie. While this historic event was a key moment in baseball and civil rights history, unfortunately there were so many other African American basketball players that were qualified to play in the NBA but space was limited. The only other teams that African American was fully accepted were the Harlem Globetrotters and the only league was the Eastern Basketball League. By the early 60s, the best black players were now recruited for the National Basketball Association, and the fans followed.