Ray Scott, "The NBA in Black and White: The Memoir of a Trailblazing NBA Player and Coach" (Seven Stories Press, 2022)

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“There’s a basic insecurity with Black guys my size,” Scott writes. “We can’t hide and everybody turns to stare when we walk down the street. … Whites believe that their culture is superior to African-American culture. ... We don’t accept many of [their] answers, but we have to live with them.”

Ray Scott was part of the early wave of Black NBA players like Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who literally changed how the game of professional basketball is played—leading to the tremendously popular financial blockbuster the NBA is today. Scott was a celebrated 6’9” forward/center after being chosen by the Detroit Pistons as the #4 pick of the 1961 NBA draft, and then again after he was named head coach of the Pistons in October 1972, winning Coach of the Year in the spring of 1974—the first black man ever to capture that honor.

Scott’s is a story of quiet persistence, hard work, and, most of all, respect. He credits the mentorship of NBA player and coach Earl Lloyd, and talks about fellow Philly native Wilt Chamberlain and friends Muhammad Ali and Aretha Franklin, among many others. Ray has lived through one of the most turbulent times in our nation’s history, especially the time of assassinations of so many Black leaders at the end of the 1960s. Through it all, his voice remains quiet and measured, transcending all the sorrows with his steadiness and positive attitude. The NBA in Black and White: The Memoir of a Trailblazing NBA Player and Coach (Seven Stories Press, 2022) is his story, told in collaboration with the great basketball writer, former college player and CBA coach Charley Rosen.

Paul Knepper covered the Knicks for Bleacher Report. His first book, The Knicks of the Nineties: Ewing, Oakley, Starks and the Brawlers That Almost Won It All was published in 2020. You can reach Paul at paulknepper@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @paulieknep.

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