The Popcorn Stand: Sharman was always a class act |

The Popcorn Stand: Sharman was always a class act

On Oct. 31, 1950, Earl Lloyd became the first African-American to play in the National Basketball Association. I have a loose connection to Lloyd through Bill Sharman, a 1944 Porterville (Calif.) High School graduate.

As sports editor at the Porterville Recorder I got the chance to cover and get to know Sharman up until his death in 2013.

Sharman had a legendary playing career with the Boston Celtics and then a legendary career as a coach and an executive with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Before he went onto his legendary tenures with the Celtics and the Lakers, Sharman was a teammate of Lloyd’s with the Washington Capitols when Lloyd broke the NBA’s color barrier. There’s no person I admire more in professional sports than Sharman and Lloyd, who died in 2015, agreed with me.

Lloyd once said of all the players from his playing days, the one he admired the most was Sharman. Maybe that’s because Sharman was willing to give Lloyd a ride to practice every day.

That may not sound like much but in 1950 Washington, D.C., it was an amazing gesture for a white man to be seen with a black man in the same car since Washington was still a part of the segregated South.

I know it was also as amazing for Lloyd to get into the car of a white man as it was for Sharman to offer a ride to a black man.

But it doesn’t surprise me because I know Sharman was always a class act.

— Charles Whisnand