A year ago Sunday, Philadelphia lost a legend with the passing of former Overbrook High, Drake University and National Basketball Association standout Lewis “Black Magic” Lloyd. He was 60 and on a whim could still shoot a jumper from the corner hitting nothing but net.
Whether he was leading Overbrook against archrival West Philadelphia High School, becoming a national sensation at Drake or going against eventual Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famers such as Earvin “Magic” Johnson and George “Iceman” Gervin, Lloyd’s game remained the same — fluid.
Watching him play in his prime was akin to turning on a spigot and seeing water flow freely in a basin. Lloyd could control his tempo. He could drip one second and gush a moment later.
Lloyd wasn’t muscularly built but he refused to be overpowered. He wasn’t a prolific jumper but his leaping ability was never questioned.
Lloyd wasn’t the fastest player on the court but he was rarely beaten running baseline to baseline. His defensive play wasn’t flawless but he could shut down an opponent. His shot wasn’t perfect but it seemingly always went through the hoop. His Euro-step move to the basket wasn’t impeccable but it definitely was immaculate.
Lloyd did it all without sweating profusely and always with a smile. He would flash those pearly colored dentures and the contrast was perfect with his dark ebony hue.
He was truly deserved of the nickname Black Magic. He pulled tricks on the hardwood that many still talk about. He never bragged about what he could do with a basketball in his hands. However, he was known to talk boastfully about what he did with a brown colored spherical ball that is 29.5 inches in circumference and weighs 22 ounces.
There’s big difference.
And he always did it with a smile.
Off the court, he was a straw that stirred the drink. He made outsiders feel welcomed. He was cordial. He was Sweet Lew and wasn’t difficult to talk to.
Remembering Lewis “Black Magic”Lloyd is easy. Forgetting him is tough.