The National Basketball Association unveiled six new trophies for the league’s division winners in 2022. Four of the six legends who played collegiately at a historically black college from the 1950s – 1960s were honored.
THE NAT “SWEETWATER” CLIFTON TROPHY
The first African-American to sign a contract in the NBA, Clifton played for the New York Knicks from 1950-57 and was an NBA All-Star in 1957. In his first season, he helped lead the Knicks to their first Finals appearance. He starred in college at Xavier, LA.
Atlantic Division: Phila 76ers Brooklyn Nets NY Knicks Boston Celtics Toronto Raptors
THE WAYNE EMBRY TROPHY
The first African-American to become an NBA general manager (with the Milwaukee Bucks) after a lengthy playing career that included five NBA All-Star appearances and an NBA championship in 1968. He played college ball at Miami, Ohio. Embry transitioned to the front office after his playing career and rose to become the first African-American to be named General Manager. He continued as a basketball executive with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors and was named Basketball Executive of the Year in 1992 and 1998.
Central Division: Milwaukee Bucks Cleveland Cavaliers Chicago Bulls Indiana Pacers Detroit Pistons
THE EARL LLOYD TROPHY
The first African American to play a game in the NBA, Lloyd played for the Washington Capitols, Syracuse Nationals, and Detroit Pistons.
He played collegiately at West Virginia State. The Army veteran played nine NBA seasons and won an NBA title in 1955.
Southeast Division: Atlanta Hawks Miami Heat Washington Wizaeds Orlando Magic Charlotte Hornets
THE WILLIS REED TROPHY
A graduate of Grambling State University is the only HBCU graduate to be named league MVP and Finals MVP. Reed played his entire career with the Knicks, winning two championships. A seven-time NBA All-Star and five-time All-NBA selection, Reed was Rookie of the Year in 1965 and was named to the league’s 50th and 75th Anniversary teams.
Southwest Division: Memphis Grizzlies New Orleans Pelicans Dallas Mavericks Houston Rockets San Antonio Spurs
THE SAM JONES TROPHY
Jones, a graduate of North Carolina Central University, has won more championships than any HBCU graduate who has played in the NBA. He won 10 championships as a member of the Boston Celtics from 1957-69 and was a five-time All-Star, three-time All-NBA selection and a member of the league’s 25th, 50th and 75th Anniversary Teams. Jones was nicknamed “The Shooter” for his ability to hit clutch shots in championship runs. He stood up for the rights of African-Americans in the league and in the country during a pivotal time in the 1960s.
Northwest Division: Denver Nuggets Minnesota Timberwolves Oklahoma Thunder Utah Jazz Portland Trailblazers
THE CHUCK COOPER TROPHY
The first African-American player to be drafted in the NBA, Cooper was selected with the 14th overall pick in the 1950 NBA Draft. A veteran of the Navy, he played six seasons in the league with the
Pacific Division: Sacramento Kings Phoenix Suns Los Angeles Clippers Golden State Warriors Los Angeles Lakers