PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh native Charles Cooper was one of the first African Americans to break the NBA color barrier when he was drafted by the Boston Celtics in 1950, after he graduated from Duquesne University.
Cooper attended Westinghouse High School, and was All American at Duquesne.
He died at age 57 in 1984, but his son, Charles Cooper III, reacted to the Donald Sterling racist rant scandal and the NBA decision to ban Sterling for life from the NBA.
“My father would be appreciative that the NBA Commissioner recognized what he had endured in his contribution to the NBA and major league sports,” he said.
Commissioner Adam Silver specifically mentioned the name of the Pittsburgh native at a press conference Tuesday afternoon, saying, “To the pioneers of the game, like Chuck Cooper, I apologize.”
Silver noted that the NBA has traditionally taken a leadership role in matters of race relations.
Cooper said when he heard Silver mention his father’s name, he came close to tears, realizing his dad was being singled out and recognized.
The younger Cooper heads a non-profit group called the Chuck Cooper Foundation, aimed at preserving the elder Cooper’s legacy, and providing, among other things, graduate level college scholarships to minority students.