Chuck Cooper III discusses father’s induction into Basketball Hall of Fame
There’s one Pittsburgh guy who will be getting a standing ovation in New England this week.
The Westinghouse High School and Duquesne basketball star is going into the basketball Hall of Fame this weekend.
And it is overdue.
In 1950, Cooper was the first African-American player to be drafted by an NBA team. It was the Boston Celtics.
Nathaniel “Sweetwater” Clifton was the first black player to sign an NBA contract. Early Lloyd was the first black player to play in a game. They have both been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Now Cooper gets to enter the hallowed ground in Springfield, Mass., this weekend.
It was a long time coming, but Chuck Cooper's legacy with the #Celtics will be honored this weekend as he gets inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. @ASherrodblakelyhttps://t.co/K587qkt1pe pic.twitter.com/E98Nr0GG86
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) September 5, 2019
The honor will be done posthumously. Cooper died back in 1984. So I spoke with his son, Chuck Cooper III, for the Friday “Breakfast With Benz” podcast.
The younger Cooper recorded a video montage for the induction Saturday. The likes of Bill Russell, Elgin Baylor, Tom Heinsohn, Julius Erving, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Isiah Thomas, Dominique Wilkins, Mannie Jackson and Ray Allen will induct Cooper.
Recognize any of those names?
Cooper recorded 2,725 points, 2,431 rebounds and 733 assists in 409 games. So his numbers aren’t getting him in. His dedication to the game as a social pioneer is.
Cooper III spoke Tuesday at the Powers Center, across the street from what will soon be known as the UPMC Cooper Field House, where Duquesne hopes to play its home games next season, on the former A.J. Palumbo Center site along Forbes Avenue.
We talked about his memories of his father, the accomplishment he attained, and the stunning list of presenters who will be on hand.
Current head coach Keith Dambrot joins us as well. His father Sid overlapped with Cooper on the Dukes team.