Documentary on NBA's First African-American Player Secures Distribution
Tony Parker, Carmelo Anthony and Kawhi Leonard are among the film's executive producers.
Constant Beta Motion Picture Company, Creative Control and Abramorama are collaborating for the North American distribution of The First to Do It, a documentary about Earl Lloyd, the first African-American to play in the NBA. Abramorama plans a wide theatrical release for the film in February.
Directed by Coodie and Chike, First to Do It was produced by Arka Sengupta and in association with the National Basketball Players Association, and was executive produced by Michael Finley, Tony Parker, Carmelo Anthony, Kawhi Leonard, PJ Tucker, Harry I. Martin, Amit Sharma, Jason Cole, David T. Friendly, Jack Lechner, Michele Roberts and Chrysa Chin. Anthony, Leonard and Chris Paul, as well as Hall of Fame players Oscar Robertson, Dave Bing and Bob Lanier, appear in the film. Deon Cole provides the voice of Lloyd.
First to Do It recounts Lloyd's journey, from growing up in deeply segregated Alexandria, Virginia, to witnessing the first black U.S. president. It also outlines how the modern game was formed, from the fall from dominance of the Harlem Globetrotters to the introduction of the 24-second clock. Through the voices of current NBA stars, it also examines the legacy of desegregation in America and the ongoing role basketball has played in America’s inner cities. Made in full cooperation with Lloyd’s family, First to Do It will make its world premiere this week at the Hamptons International Film Festival.
“The story of Earl Lloyd is an important part of the history of professional basketball in the U.S.," said Sherrie Deans, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association Foundation. "His achievements and the times in which he lived provide important lessons for players and fans today. Our support of this film reflects our commitment to preserving the legacy of our players and our game, and the positive impacts that both have had on our society.”
Added Abramorama president Richard Abramowitz: “Given the current political climate, The First to Do It is a welcome contribution to this essential dialogue. And Oscar Robertson, too? It’s almost too much at once. … We are eager to help get this excellent, significant film in front of audiences young and old. Earl Lloyd is a role model for our times.”
Said Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs: “Being from my generation, it never occurred to me that people like me couldn’t play this game. That’s why it was so important for me to share this history with the younger generations that are coming behind me. We need to understand where we came from."