Earl Lloyd, who became the first black player to appear in an N.B.A. game when he took the court for the Washington Capitols in October 1950, three and a half years after Jackie Robinson broke modern major league baseball’s color barrier, died on Thursday in Crossville, Tenn. He was 86. His death was announced by West Virginia State University, where he played before joining the N.B.A.
When Lloyd made his N.B.A. debut, pro basketball was an afterthought on the national sports scene. Lloyd’s milestone appearance received little attention. But Lloyd and three other black players who appeared in N.B.A. lineups soon afterward were nonetheless pioneers, enduring racist jeers from spectators in some cities as well as segregated hotel and restaurant accommodations.
In 1955, Lloyd and Jim Tucker, also a forward, became the first two black players on an N.B.A. championship team, playing for the Syracuse Nationals.
Lloyd was named the Detroit Pistons’ head coach in 1971, becoming the fourth black head coach in N.B.A. history, after Boston’s Bill Russell, Seattle’s Lenny Wilkens and Golden State’s Al Attles.
He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., in 2003 for breaking the N.B.A. racial barrier.