Little Known Black History Fact:
Wayne Embry made history by becoming not only the NBA’s first Black general manager, but the first Black general manager of any of the four major U.S. sports. Embry a former NBA player was a five-time All-Star and an NBA champion.
The Springfield, Ohio native made his mark as a player at Miami University in the town of Oxford, Ohio. Selected in the NBA draft by the St. Louis Hawks in 1958, Embry was then traded to the Cincinnati Royals. In 1960, the legendary Oscar “Big O” Robertson joined the team. As both the team and Embry were bolstered by the addition of Robertson, Embry then starred in five consecutive All-Star games.
Standing at 6-foot-8 and 240 pounds, Embry was an imposing figure nicknamed “The Wall” because of his formidable frame. In 1966, Embry was talked out of retirement by his friend, Celtics player/coach Bill Russell. The move paid off for Embry, Russell and the Celtics after the squad notched the NBA championship in 1968. Embry then headed to the new-ly formed Milwaukee Bucks team, retiring officially in 1969.
Embry immediately shifted into a small front office role as an assistant manager for the bucks. In 1972, he was promoted to general manager and served in the post until 1979. In 1986, he joined the Cleveland Cavaliers front office as GM and worked there until 1999. Embry received his last shot at GM for the Toronto Raptors in 2006 and is currently a team consultant. Embry is a two-time winner NBA Executive of the Year Award for his work in 1992 and 1998 for the Cavaliers.
Embry was no stranger to racism and recognized he was blessed to get the job in 1972, given the national political climate at the time. However, Embry maintains that he wouldn’t have been given the post if he wasn’t qualified to do so.
Embry celebrated his 78th birthday on March 26th.