Earl Lloyd became the first African-American to play in the NBA on Oct. 31, 1950. He endured plenty of racism during his time in the league, and now, more than 63 years later, he's discouraged to hear about the alleged racist comments from Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
The NBA said it is investigating the audio recording in which a man reported by TMZ as Sterling tells his girlfriend he doesn't want her bringing African-Americans to the games.
"That's amazing to me with the kind of living this guy has made all these years in the league," Lloyd said. "[Punishing him] is not going to change him. It might make him a little more selective as to how he says it."
Recalling that he couldn't go into restaurants in some cities with his teammates when he played in the NBA, Lloyd hopes the alleged comments don't overshadow the progress the league has made.
"You can't blame the whole league on one fool," Lloyd said.
This is the latest in a long history of racist incidents involving Sterling, who has been sued for housing discrimination. Lloyd, who has never met Sterling, says Clippers players should make a major statement – and air out their feelings during a private meeting with Sterling.
"They are big boys and they have to figure this out for themselves," Lloyd said. "Somebody has to step up. Someone needs to take the lead in the locker room or whatever and express how they feel.
"You got to sit and talk with him. You can't just let it go away. I don't know how they're going to do it, but somehow the players have to express how they feel about it."
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- Earl Lloyd