Ron Thomas author of They Cleared the Lane ($29.95,Nebraska)

Thomas's is probably one of the two or three best books about professional basketball ever read by this reviewer. The compelling narrative will hold every reader's interest. Although the current National Basketball Association (NBA) is over 80 percent black, African Americans did not  enter the league until 1950. Yet even the most dedicated NBA fan would be hard-pressed to identify such pioneers as Harold Hunter (the first black player to sign an NBA contract), Earl Lloyd (the first black to play in an NBA game), and Chuck Cooper (the first to be drafted by an NBA team). The book describes their trials and triumphs and then more briefly traces the rise of the black athlete as a force in the league. It was not easy, as there were official and unofficial "quotas," and local harassment could make traveling with the teams a real ordeal. This book is important not just for basketball fans but for those who want to understand the role played by African Americans in the development of the NBA and big-time sports today. Highly recommended. William Scheeren, Hempfield Area H.S. Lib., Greensburg, PA

"They Cleared the Lane is on point and on time. I am deeply touched by this book. . . . Growing up in the '50s exposed me to segregation and prejudice up close. However, it was pale in comparison to what the game's black pioneers experienced. For their perseverance and dedication, I thank them and honor their journey."--Julius Erving, former NBA star

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