Thursday, December 11, 2014
Don Barksdale-1st to be named NCAA All-American
Donald Argee "Don" Barksdale was an American professional basketball player. He was a pioneer as an African-American basketball player, becoming the 1st to be named NCAA All-American, the 1st to play on a United States men's Olympic basketball team, and the 1st to play in an National Basketball Association All-Star Game. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Born in Oakland, California to Argee and Desoree Barksdale, Don attended nearby Berkeley High School, where the basketball coach cut him from the team for 3 straight years because he wanted no more than 1 black player. Barksdale honed his basketball playing skills in parks, and then played for 2 years at Marin Junior College before earning a scholarship to UCLA. A 6'6" center for the Bruins, in 1947 he became the 1st African American to be named consensus All-American. Barksdale was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. In 1948, he was the 1st African-American on the U.S. Olympic basketball team and the 1st African-American to win an Olympic gold medal in basketball. Maggiora told Barksdale that some committee members' responses to the idea of having a black Olympian was "Hell no, that will never happen." But Maggiora wouldn't let the committee bypass Barksdale. Barksdale became the 1st African-American to play against Kentucky in Lexington, although he could not stay at the hotel with the rest of the team. Adolph Rupp, the legendary Kentucky coach, turned out to be my closest friend," Barksdale said. "We went to London and won all 12 games and got the gold medal." After college, he played for the Oakland AAU team until the NBA began to integrate. He started a career in radio broadcasting, and became the 1st black radio disc jockey in the San Francisco Bay area. He worked in television and became the 1st African-American beer distributor and the 1st African-American television host in the Bay area with a show called Sepia Review on KRON-TV. In 1951, he signed a lucrative contract with the Baltimore Bullets and entered the NBA as a 28-year-old rookie. He would be one of the 1st African-Americans to play in the NBA. After his basketball career ended he returned to radio, started his own recording label and opened two nightclubs in Oakland. In 1983 he launched the Save High School Sports Foundation.