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NBA struggles during 1950s, begins its rise later in decade

The NBA, known today as a leader when it comes to culture and racial issues, was anything but during the 1950s when segregation divided the country. It was a powerless, fledgling league trying to find its footings. Franchises were folding and few paid much attention to the NBA. When Jackie Robinson became Major League Baseball’s first Black player in 1947, Bob Cousy remembered it being major national news. Three years later, his Boston Celtics made Chuck Cooper the NBA’s first Black draft pick. The 93-year-old Cousy says “to this day I have yet to read a story about Chuck Cooper breaking the color line in the NBA, because as I say nobody gave a damn what color we were or what we were doing."

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