This article originally appeared on The Philadelphia Tribune.
Lewis “Black Magic” Lloyd, one of Philadelphia’s most celebrated basketball players, died on Friday. He was 60.
Lloyd, who starred at Overbrook High School before moving on to become a Drake University and NBA standout, was known for his sleight of hands trickery on the basketball court.
Many have lauded him as one of the greatest playground players of all time, and his name is mentioned in several books on basketball.
In high school, the Public League basketball championship was usually decided between the Overbrook High Panthers featuring Lloyd and the West Philadelphia High Speedboys featuring Gene Banks. The games were fierce and legendary.
“It was like Ali and Frazier,” said Banks, who went on to stardom at Duke University and the NBA. “He definitely brought out the best in me. You couldn’t play around with Lew.
“This is really hard. I’m so sorry to hear this. My heart goes out to his family during this difficult time. I always thought that one day we would be able to sit back on a porch, drink lemonade, and talk about the games we played against each other. This is difficult.”
Just last month, Lloyd expressed interest in helping a fellow former Pennsylvania hoops legend, Tyreke Evans. On May 17, the NBA banned Evans, a former Parade magazine and McDonald’s All-America player from American Christian Academy in Aston, for two years for violating the NBA/NBPA anti-drug program. He is eligible to apply for reinstatement in 2021.
The league is not permitted to discuss details of a player’s failed drug test other than to announce a suspension or dismissal. However, the ban applies to an abuse of a drug aside from a performance-enhancing drug. If Evans had been suspended for a steroid or performance-enhancing drug, the league would have identified the drug, per the anti-drug policy in the collective bargaining agreement.
For the 29-year-old Evans, the dismissal came at the wrong time. He’d just completed his 10th season in the NBA. A pending free agent, Evans spent the past season with the Indiana Pacers, his fourth team since being selected as the No. 4 pick by the Sacramento Kings in the 2009 NBA draft. He was the 2010 NBA Rookie of the Year.
Evans, who has also played for the New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies, averaged 10.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists for the Pacers, splitting time between starting and coming off the bench. For his career, Evans averaged 15.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.8 assists.
According to the NBA’s guidelines, a player can be dismissed and disqualified from the league for testing positive for a drug of abuse or if he is convicted of or pleads guilty to the use, possession or distribution of a drug of abuse.
Lloyd was among several players who have been banned under the policy.
“I know what he’s going through,” said Lloyd, who averaged 13 points a game during his NBA career. “I just want him to know that I’m there to help him in any way that I can. He’s not alone.”
Lloyd, a fourth-round draft pick of the Golden State Warriors in 1981, played seven seasons in the NBA. After two years with the Warriors, he signed with the Houston Rockets where he became a star.
In 1986, he and teammate Mitchell Wiggins, whose son Andrew was the first overall choice of the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014 NBA Draft, were banned for 2½ years after testing positive for cocaine.
A player can be reinstated only with the approval of both the NBA and the players’ association. Lloyd and Wiggins were reinstated in September 1989. Ironically, both ended their NBA careers with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Lloyd had been associated with rehab programs run by former Sixers general manager and head coach John Lucas and Jayson Williams, a former Sixer who served five years in prison after he accidentally shot and killed a limousine driver in 2002.
“Lew was special,” said Ricky Tucker, a former Overbrook High teammate of Lloyd. Tucker, who played collegiately at Providence College, also played with Lloyd on several recreation teams.
“Lew and I put in a lot of work all over the city and up and down the East Coast,” Tucker said. “He was an intelligent player. In my opinion, he was the most electric and exciting player ever from Philadelphia. He could do it all and he always had that smile on his face.
“He was doing so well and never had a bad word to say about anyone. Never. That was the kind of man he was. He would do anything to help you.”
Since retiring, Lloyd had been a fixture at basketball clinics around the country. He also became a licensed vendor and operated a very vibrant goods stand on 52nd Street near Lancaster Avenue.
Funeral details are pending.