Clayton names a park in honor of a native son and local basketball ‘living legend’

Town of Clayton

All Star Park is a place where kids have played basketball for generations as trains rolled by just across Front Street on the edge of downtown Clayton.

On Saturday, it was renamed in honor of one local all star in particular.

Donald “Clyde” Sinclair played for the Clayton High School Comets when they won the state championship in 1976. He went on to set a school record for career assists at N.C. Central University in Durham, where he was twice voted defensive player of the year.

But the rest of the world came to know Sinclair as “The Glide” after he joined the Harlem Globetrotters in 1987. (N.C. State University graduate Clyde Austin, also known as The Glide, left the team about the time Sinclair joined.) Sinclair spent 17 years playing with the Globetrotters and then coached the team for another seven.

But wherever his career took him, Sinclair always considered Clayton home. On Saturday, the community honored a “living legend,” as interim town manager Rich Cappola described him, by naming the park for him.

Darren Banks, a Clayton High coach who was instrumental in the change, said Sinclair has had a big impact on the town through his example and his coaching.

“Clyde has made a lot of ripple effects throughout the community that will go on and on and on,” Banks said at Saturday’s re-christening.

Banks said the park was informally known as Sinclair Coliseum in the early 1980s, because Sinclair and his siblings were so talented. The court was always packed on Sundays, he said.

“There was only one rule, right Clyde?” Banks said, looking back at Sinclair. “We couldn’t start playing on Sundays until church was over. If not, Mr. Sinclair, his father, would come down here and let you know.”

Banks said Sinclair was hesitant about having the park named for him, asking if it could be named for his parents instead. When it was his turn to speak Saturday, Sinclair was grateful but still sought to share the honor.

“It’s a great thing. But it’s not about me; it’s about the last name on that,” he said, gesturing toward the sign. “That was my father’s name, Sinclair.”

A few minutes later, a Norfolk Southern freight train rumbled past as Sinclair, Banks and others pulled back a blue drape to reveal the sign: Donald “Clyde” Sinclair Park.