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Who is Chuck Cooper?


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February 06, 2008 8:08PM

Charles Harrison Cooper (September 29, 1926 - February 5, 1984), better known as Chuck Cooper, was one of three players with legitimate claims to be the first African American basketball player in the NBA. Each satisfied a different condition of being "first": * Cooper was the first black player to be drafted by an NBA team, in 1950. * Shortly afterwards, Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton was the first black player to sign a contract with an NBA team. * Finally, at the start of the 1950-51 season, Earl Lloyd was the first black to play in an NBA game, as his team started its season one day before Cooper's and four days before Clifton's. Cooper was signed by Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach, after playing for the Westinghouse high school in Pittsburgh, and the NCAA teams at Duquesne University and West Virginia State College. Cooper went on to have a fair NBA career. He played four years with the Celtics, then was traded to the Milwaukee Hawks before ending his career as a member of the Ft. Wayne Pistons. As some statistics were not kept during that era, it is not known how many blocked shots, steals or turnovers he had during his career. He did not take any three point shots; three point shots were not instituted in the NBA until about 20 years after Cooper stopped playing. During his NBA career, Cooper played a total of 409 games, scoring 2,725 points for an average of 6.66 points per game, with 2431 rebounds for an average of 5.9 per game, and 733 assists for an average of 1.79 per game. Chuck Cooper, out of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA.