Harold E. Greer: The First African-American To Play Basketball And Break The Color Barrier At Marshall College



Harold Everett “Hal” Greer was the first African-American to play basketball at Marshall College (now Marshall University) and break the color barrier.


On June 26, 1936, the six-foot-two-inch guard was born in Huntington. During the days of segregation, he was a basketball star at Huntington’s Frederick Douglass High School. Cam Henderson, the legendary coach, recruited him while he was still in high school.


Greer scored 1, 277 points during his three-year college career, averaging 19.4 points per game. He also established the Marshall record for field goals (.545).


Greer played 15 seasons in the National Basketball Association with the Syracuse Nationals and Philadelphia 76ers, averaging 19.2 points per game and being a ten-time all-star. His 76ers team of 1966-67, regarded as one of the game’s all-time best, ended the Boston Celtics’ eight-year championship streak.


Greer also served as the team’s assistant coach during his final season, 1972-73. He saw action on both the bench and the court, appearing in 38 games and averaging just 5.6 points per game. He retired at the end of the season, capping off a 15-year playing career. Greer had played in more games (1,122) than any other player in NBA history at the time of his retirement.


He was also among the top ten in terms of points scored, field goals attempted, and field goals made. The 76ers retired his number 15 jersey after his retirement; he was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame; and he was named to the NBA’s list of the 50 greatest players in league history.


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