NASHVILLE --- “Fast Break: The Legendary John McLendon” a documentary about former TSU men’s basketball coach John McLendon will air on PBS station KCPT in Kansas City, Mo. on March 13, 16 and 18 at 8:30 p.m. McLendon guided TSU to NAIA National Championships in 1957, 1958 and 1959.
Directed by Kevin Willmott, the film is inspired by the biography entitled “Breaking Through: John B. McLendon, Basketball Legend and Civil Rights Pioneer,” written by Milton S. Katz. The film premiered with a special showing at the University of Kansas in November of 2016.
During his five years in Nashville, McLendon lifted Tennessee State A&I to unprecedented heights with three-consecutive national championships.
McLendon, who passed away in 1999, coached at Tennessee State A&I University, North Carolina College, the Hampton Institute, Kentucky State College and Cleveland State University.
McLendon also coached professionally, when Cleveland Pipers General Manager, Mike Cleary hired him to be the head coach of the American Basketball League team which was owned by George Steinbrenner. McLendon’s hiring made history, as he became the first African-American head coach in professional basketball. In his, and the Pipers, only season in the league, the team captured the league championship. McLendon later went on to coach the American Basketball Association’s Denver Rockets.
McLendon was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a contributor in 1979 and as a coach in 2016.
For more information on the documentary, click HERE.