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Set Stage for Lewis Lloyd Aka Shot Maker Extraordinaire by Andre McCarter
Competitive basketball was everywhere during the mid-60s into the 70’s in Philadelphia; recreation centers, playgrounds, school yards, gyms, YMCA’s, and oh those the street baskets. Basketball was in the air, whether it was the Sonny Hill League, Bill Berry League, city summer leagues or the Suburban leagues; like the Narberth League, quality hooping, as we called it.
During my evolvement in the game of basketball I witnessed, was schooled on by a generation of basketball players who were at the tail end of an era as the torch was being passed. They were Guy Rodgers, Wilt Chamberlain, Claude Gross, Tee Parham and a host of others. The torch stayed lit as it was passed to Earl Monroe, Bobby Lewis, Johnny Baum, to name a few and then to the young boys like me.
In this era, I saw a full array of the shots of the game of basketball executed to perfection but with many flavors of artistic flare. Sonny Lloyd’s two hand set shot on the court of Landreth school yard was a sight to see. Not many players were shooting that shot by the time I came around the game but Sonny Lloyd’s and other two-handed set shot shooters were accurate, they went in with high frequency. It was an amazing shot, but the jump shot had become a more fashionable shot with a quicker release of the shot.
The one leg, one hand stab shot, led to the jump shot. It was an off-shoot of the one hand runner. Then there was the running hook shot while going to the basket. The running hook shot off glass, was shot right outside the lane, full speed, off glass. You could always put a little lift on the hook, if the big man was coming. Legend has it, Tee Parham shot these right and left hand running hooks getting it often times one inch over the outstretched hands of who else, the 50 inch vertical that was Wilt Chamberlain until he got mad and shut down the basket, like the moon eclipsing the sun.
There were some ‘old heads’ who could play the glass with shots from an assortment of angles, not just the traditional 45 degree angle, it didn’t matter they played the glass. Bigger men like Claude Gross and Ray ‘Chink’ Scott helped revolutionize the game with their extraordinary perimeter jump shooting with some distance.
They could stretch out a defense when necessary. They could still take you down in the post and drown you in hook shots or hook and jump hook you from distance. The finger-roll was a common shot in those glory days of basketball, not just a shot, mastered and popularized by George ‘Ice Man’ Gervin, the best.
The game of basketball during this season of Philadelphia’s love, thirst for the game and the blending of generations was full of shots, shots and more shots!
Now the stage has been set, now fast forward a few years to the rare and one of the best shot makers Philadelphia basketball history has ever produced, Lew Lloyd, as I call him, Lewis Kevin Lloyd, aka ‘Black Magic’. It would take older Philadelphia historians, who could provide information on whom may also merit this acclaim. I have to go back to none other than Tee Parham the master shot maker to measure the likes of Lewis Lloyd.
Lewis Lloyd, like Tee Parham had a shot for every scenario, not many players possess this unique quality especially a player of Lloyd’s 6’6″ stature. Any player who can consistently make-up, invent a shot of any kind when presented with a situation, i.e. . . . they were cut off, help defense came, a giant approaches, they cannot turn or spin right or left, etc. . . It’s ‘Black Magic’, he creates a shot for the moment and . . . he scores!
I was in college at UCLA and did not get to see the high profile, stars of the City of Brotherly Love, H.S. All-Americans, Gene Banks, Clarence Tillman and Lewis Lloyd get after it in what must have been epic games. West Philadelphia Speed-boys vs. Overbrook Hill Toppers, it is a long rivalry tradition.
While I was at UCLA, my brother ‘Lil Will’ kept me up to speed on his boy Clarence and our other South Philly Prodigy Gene Banks, but I wasn’t getting the full scoop on Lewis Lloyd. I was told that these epic battles were like the days of old! I had enjoyed a few myself as a guard for Overbrook against West Philly.
It was some time after that I began to hear more about this kid ‘Black Magic’! The nickname alone puts you in a special category immediately. One cannot just go around giving out that name. When you say ‘Black Magic’, I go to Earl ‘The Pearl’ Monroe, what?!#@%&
When I finally saw Lewis Lloyd play, I said Wow! He has his own Black Magic and he is gaining strength more than his already legendary status. First thing I noticed about him was his uncanny ability to put the basketball in the basket.
I finally got to watch him play, he was a pro. It was a Baker League game. I do not remember any other players but I do remember it was a competitive game. The crowd was truly excited as his fans shouted from the stands on his every move.
It was one of those nights when everything was going and Lewis Lloyd, ‘Black Magic’ was flowing liquid shots of every kind. I watched him with undivided attention. I was watching a true artist at work on the basketball court, I wasn’t talking to other people nor letting people interrupt, not even slapping five on great plays.
I saw him shoot two different shots, each going to the basket, being contested and shooting off the wrong foot, it didn’t matter, score it. Next he posted his man and hit his patented fade away, no way to contest. How about a left hand jump hook off the offense rebound, where he couldn’t turn right which is the natural move for most players, so they would not take the shot and just get it back out, not Lewis, he creates a shot to get the bucket! For that moment Lloyd created a shot!
Then it happened, Lew Lloyd, Lewis Kevin Lloyd, aka. ‘Black Magic’ zoned out, he proceeded to hit a short baseline jumper, off one leg, a bank shot runner, a 15 foot jumper after his own version of the spin move at 6’6″. Threw in a few threes, some floaters in the lane, finger-rolls and of course an assortment of dunks on half court drives and fast-break finishes, making all his free-throws. You get the picture? Did you add it all up? What did you calculate? What . . . yeah about 50 plus!
I have seen some of the best shooters like Jerry West when his jumper is falling from everywhere or Earl Monroe is pearling and now Stephen Curry, Clay Thompson, drilling threes, where everything shot is falling, but Lewis Lloyd’s assortment of shots is like Romare Bearden, Charles Alston, Jacob Lawrence. . . with Miles Davis highlighting each movement of art, uncanny!
I am sure Tee Parham enjoyed refereeing a Lewis Lloyd game and I can almost hear Tee saying, “man this boy got more shots than” . . . !
Lewis Lloyd is another case of NBA teams getting it wrong again! He was a 4th round draft pick, the 76th player chosen. What! Ouch, Excuse me! Just imagine if Al Attles hadn’t said enough is enough; selecting Lloyd for the Golden State Warriors. Lewis Lloyd, never on the NBA floor; imagine, no I rather not!
Lewis Kevin Lloyd tried to give the NBA something to chew on; you know a glimpse of what he could do while playing at Drake University. In his junior year he scored 30.2 points and 15 rebounds a game. In his senior season he averaged 26.3 ppg. During those two years Lloyd was selected Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year. Lewis Kevin Lloyd’s # 30 jersey was retired at Drake University.
Lewis Lloyd in the NBA held a center stage spotlight on the teams who passed on his great talent, especially during his time with the Houston Rockets. Lloyd put up very good numbers while in the NBA for seven years. His career NBA numbers are: 5,130 (13.2 ppg), 1,192 rebounds and 1,138 assist.
Lewis Lloyd was a complete player and could rebound, pass and be a winning teammate. He could also play without the basketball. His high basketball IQ afforded him the know how to play off the one who had the ball, always trying to find ways to get in position to get buckets for his team. If he was a teammate of mine, every time I made a move and I had to pass it off. I would have loved Lew Lloyd to be the finisher off my passes, because I know that if he appears to not have a shot or was contested, he could create a shot, off the wrong foot or spin, fade, hang or dunk on your behind or if necessary make the pass. He would find a way to score. What a finisher! . . .; No challenge, or contest was able to prevent him from getting what he wanted, buckets!
Everyone has a story, sometimes things can turn for the worst, but with God’s Mercy and a little faith we can make it through. Lew Lloyd had those times in his life, but thank God he is with us today. Lloyd has a son that many say is some player in his own right. His son understands his dad’s greatness on the basketball court and his renowned legacy in Basketball, revered by those in basketball who know, because they have seen Lloyd with their own eyes!
Remember when Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics and Dominique Wilkins of the Atlanta Hawks had that shootout during a playoff seventh game? They both went to another level on the shots they were making one after another each more clutch than the last.
The shot making, extraordinaire vast talent, and big heart Lewis Lloyd possessed as a player with nothing lacking, nothing missing, the basketball community would have loved to have watched in a NBA final seventh game.
Imagine, Lewis Kevin Lloyd, aka ‘Black Magic’, NBA finals, seventh game, fourth quarter, and game tied. You pick his rival George Gervin, Michael Jordan, Elgin Baylor, Kevin Durant, Larry Bird, wow! The outcome we will never know, but one thing we do know and can count on is that ‘Black Magic’, . . . West Philly baby . . . would find a way to get the ball in the basket. Even if he had to create a new shot on the spur of the moment, ‘Black Magic, would find a way to score guaranteed! On the court he was a Baaadd man, in a precise way. Off the court he has shown how Life is about the Press through to victory. Keep Pressing Lewis!
Lewis Lloyd was a shot making artist and if I did not know any better I would think it was ‘Black Magic’, no it is the training for ability of the gift and the gift is God Given.