Lest We Forget those who paved the way

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If you were to ask the casual fan of either college or professional basketball, who was the “Father of Fast-break” basketball, You undoubtedly will hear names like Wooden, Riley, Auerbach, and Smith etc and though those coaches had distinguished careers and experienced varied degrees of success on the hardwood you would be wrong. If you polled the same group and asked who was the first African American to Coach in the professional leagues the list would be relatively small with most shouting the name of the legendary Bill Russell who on April 18,1966 became the first African American coach in the NBA.

During that season Rusell served as both player-coach for his beloved Boston Celtics” Bill Russell is a good guess however you would still be wrong.

The correct answer to both questions is John McLendon (1915-1999).  Coach McLendon was a pioneer whose contributions have remained largely ignored, which is hard to imagine given today’s up and down style of play that is exhibited and played at all levels. In fact many of the coaches aforementioned earlier owe some of their success to Coach McLendon.  Unfortunately Coach McLendon remains virtually anonymous to the main stream media and fans of the game.  As a writer whose personal mission is to highlight the “Unsung Heroes” and in honor of Black History Month. I have decided to profile Coach McLendon.

To learn more about Coach McLendon


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