Wayne Richard Embry (born March 26, 1937 in Springfield, Ohio) was general manager for the Cleveland Cavaliers from 1986-1999. He he also had a distinguished career as a center/forward whose career spanned from 1959 to 1969. He played for the Cincinnati Royals, Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks.
After retiring as a player he became the first African American NBA general manager, managing Milwaukee Bucks (1971-1979), Cleveland Cavaliers (1986-1999), and Toronto Raptors (2006). He was selected NBA Executive of the Year in 1992 and 1998. His most remembered moves as a general manager was his controversial 1975 trade of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar from the Milwaukee Bucks to the Los Angeles Lakers, and the 1989 Cavaliers trade of Ron Harper and two first-round draft picks to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for the rights to Danny Ferry.
As a player he played in the NBA All-Star game for five consecutive seasons (1961-1965) and won the NBA Championship with the Celtics in 1968. Embry was drafted by the St. Louis Hawks in 1958. He was then traded closer to home weeks later to the Cincinnati Royals. A powerful 6′ 8 and 255 pound, Embry at times appeared to be a blocker on the court, a protector of teammates. But he also had a fine all-around game. Embry was talked out of retirement by friend Bill Russell, the new player/coach for Boston. Embry played crucial reserve minutes for Russell and aided that team’s surprising 1967-68 NBA title run. When the Milwaukee Bucks were formed, they claimed Embry from the Celtics in the expansion draft and Embry centered the Bucks for the 1968-69 season. He later became an assistant manager for the team, keeping an eye for former Royals teammates he could lure to the rising contender. He was instrumental in numerous signings to aid the team, including Robertson. His remarkable teaming with then-named Lew Alcindor quickly produced a NBA title, with Embry by then rising into Milwaukee’s front office.
Embry is a two-time winner of the NBA’s Executive of the Year (1992 and 1998)
He was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999 (not as a player, but as a contributor).
Embry attended Miami University of Ohio and Tecumseh High School.
Embry is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African Americans.