The Basketball Journey of Earl Lloyd

Article excerpt

Moonfixer: The Basketball Journey of Earl Lloyd. By Earl Lloyd and Sean Kirst. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2010. 152 pp. $29.95 hardcover.

In 1950, Earl Lloyd became the first African-American to play in a National Basketball Association (NBA) game when he took the floor for the (now defunct) Washington, D.C. capitols. He had, along with three others, been selected in that year's NBA draft and, by chance, was the first among them to take the floor. After a two-year hiatus to fight in the Korean War, Lloyd returned to professional basketball, spending the bulk of his career playing for the Syracuse Nationals. At the time, Lloyd received very little press attention and his accomplishment was, for decades, overlooked. He has only recently achieved prominence, in part because of his 2003 induction into the NBA Hall of Fame. (xvii) In Moonfixer, Lloyd and his co-author, Sean Krist, provide an autobiographical account of the American social and athletic climate preceding his notable basketball career as well as the fascinating life he led after retiring from the sport.

Krist, who is a well-respected sports journalist for the Syracuse Post-Standard, had been professionally acquainted with Lloyd for several years before the two agreed to collaborate on this book. Krist conducted a series of unstructured interviews with Lloyd over the course of two years and condensed Lloyd's responses into a loose, episodic narrative. The resulting text, and the methods that produced it, bears more resemblance to an oral history than to a standard sports biography.

Lloyd's free-flowing recollections are organized into eleven chapters, vignettes really, each focusing on a particular time period or theme in his life. A prologue and epilogue are also included, in which Lloyd discusses President Barak Obama's candidacy and election, respectively. The tone throughout is conversational and informal, as Lloyd's words are presented verbatim, edited only for brevity and coherence.

Lloyd's amiable voice and detailed memory add texture and emotion to a surprisingly brief memoir that stretches from his high school years in segregated 1940s Virginia through the year 2008. For example, the epilogue was transcribed from a conversation between Lloyd and Krist on the night that Obama was elected president. …