Chuck Cooper (right most) and the Boston Celtics. Photo from The Sporting News Archives

THE LEGEND34 

Chuck Cooper, first black player to be drafted into the NBA, gets 10 welcomers into the Hall of Fame

by Jim Lemuel Wilson, September 01, 2019 11:49pm

Chuck Cooper became the first player to be drafted into the National Basketball Association when the Boston Celtics picked him 14th overall in the 1950 draft. Now, 10 Hall of Famers are set to welcome him into the Hall on September 6.

Welcoming Cooper into the Hall are basketball Hall of Famers Bill Russell (1975), Elgin Baylor (1977), Tom Heinsohn (1986), Julius Erving (1993), Kareem Abdul Jabbar (1995), Larry Bird (1998), Isiah Thomas (2000), Dominique Wilkins (2006), Mannie Jackson (2017), and Ray Allen (2018).

The expansive number of presenters speaks volumes about how Cooper’s entry into the NBA came at a time when there was still a racial divide between the white people and the black people in the United States. Him joining the NBA forever changed the course of the league, and the issue of racism, in the country though he did not have a spectacular career.

Copper played four seasons with the Celtics before joining the Milwaukee/St. Louis Hawks in 1954. He played for the Fort Wayne Pistons in 1956, his last year in the NBA. Cooper averaged 6.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.8 assists throughout his career.

Cooper will be inducted into the Hall of Fame along with Al Attles, Carl Braun, Vlade Divac, Bobby Jones, Sidney Moncrief, Jack Sikma, Tennessee A&I, Wayland Baptist, Teresa Weatherspoon, and Paul Westphal.

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