They Cleared the Lane: The NBA's Black Pioneers

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University of Nebraska Press, Jan 1, 2002 - Social Science - 276 pages
Black players comprise more than 80 percent of the National Basketball Association's rosters, providing a strong and valued contribution to professional basketball. In the first half of the 20th century, however, pro basketball was tainted by racism, as gifted African Americans were denied the opportunity to display their talents. A few managed to eke out a living playing for the New York Renaissance and Harlem Globetrotters, black professional teams that barnstormed widely, playing local teams or in short-lived leagues. Also, a sprinkling of black players were on integrated teams. Modern professional basketball began to take shape in the late 1940s, during which time the NBA was formed. Fearful of economic repercussions, team owners originally imposed an unwritten ban on black players. But pressured by several progressive owners and the increasing emergence of talented black players, the nba gradually accepted integration. A few pioneers, such as Sweetwater Clifton, Chuck Cooper, Earl Lloyd, and Don Barksdale, managed to break through and confronted discrimination and numerous frustrations.

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San Francisco Examiner sportswriter Thomas debuts with a minutely detailed history of the integration of the National Basketball Association.When the Basketball Association of America merged with the ... Read full review

They cleared the lane: the NBA's Black pioneers

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Thomas's is probably one of the two or three best books about professional basketball ever read by this reviewer. The compelling narrative will hold every reader's interest. Although the current ... Read full review


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About the author (2002)

Ron Thomas is director of the Morehouse College Journalism and Sports Program.

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