By Gary Norris Gray, Staff Reporter
OAKLAND, CA – As the NBA moves into the 2018 holiday season, there are nine active Black head coaches. The Eastern Conference Champion Cleveland Cavaliers let go former head coach, Ty Lue following another departure by perennial All-Star LeBron James.
Cleveland is currently 1-11, last place in the Central Division. There are two new Black head coaches in the league
One is Atlanta’s Lloyd Pierce who previously served as an assistant coach with the Cavs and Golden State Warriors. He also hung in there during “The Process,” in Philadelphia. The other is Memphis’ J.B. Bickerstaff, the son of veteran head coach Bernie Bickerstaff.
The NBA also has head coaching talent on the bench with assistants Mike Brown (Golden State) and Mike Woodson (Los Angeles Clippers). These two along with broadcaster and former Warrior skipper Mark Jackson should receive another shot at being a head coach.
The NBA’s color barrier was broken in 1950 as Charles “Chuck” Cooper (Boston Celtics), Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton (New York Knicks), and Earl Lloyd (Washington Capitals) changed the game forever.
Lloyd became the first African-American player to win an NBA Championship and the first to be an assistant coach with the Detroit Pistons in 1968 and the second Black head coach in the league.
The League has work to finish as Black head coaches continue to be fired faster than their Caucasian counter-parts. The Cavs are the recent example of this releasing Lue who won the Eastern Conference four times along with an NBA Championship.
This also happened north of the border in Toronto when Dwane Casey was released after three 2nd place finishes in the Atlantic Division. Brown and Woodson are still looking for another chance to guide a team to a championship.
The Golden State Warriors won Back to Back titles and three in the last four years. Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green are trying to put a historical stamp on the NBA searching for that Three-peat in 2018-19.
This would put the Blue and Gold “Splash Brothers & Company,” with the four other elite teams, The Minneapolis Lakers, The Los Angeles Lakers, the Boston Celtics, and the Chicago Bulls.
The Warriors would be the fifth team to accomplish this challenge and in the age of free agency, this was almost impossible. Golden State will most likely break every offensive record in the book at the end of this season.
Yet, basketball historians refuse to put them in that elite basketball dynasty category.
Hall of Famer Bill Russell became the first African-American head coach to win a championship. He took over the Boston Celtics in November of 1966, as a player-coach. Russell guided them to another championship in 1969 and retired in Seattle with the Supersonics in 1988.
The second black head coach to win a title was Al Attles (below) of the Golden State Warriors. A product of North Carolina A&T, Attles grew up in New Jersey and is the first HBCU coaching product to win the title.
Others have been Lenny Wilkens-Seattle Supersonics (1979), and K.C. Jones-Boston Celtics (1984, 1986), and Doc Rivers-Boston Celtics (2008).
HERE IS THE ALL-TIME LIST OF NBA BLACK HEAD COACHES
* Coached part of that season
ALL CAPS- New Coaches
Head Coaches Coach Team Years
- Al Attles-Golden State Warriors 1969-70* to 1982-83
2.Randy Ayers-Philadelphia 76ers 2003-04*
3. Elgin Baylor-New Orleans Jazz 1974-75; 1976-77 to 1978-79
4. Butch Beard-New Jersey Nets 1994-1996
5. Bernie Bickerstaff-Seattle SuperSonics 1985-1990, Denver Nuggets 1994-1997, Washington Wizards 1996-97, to 1998-99, Charlotte Bobcats 2004-2010 Los Angeles Lakers 2012*
6. B.J. BICKERSTAFF- Memphis Grizzlies- 2017- PRESENT
7. Mike Brown-Cleveland Cavaliers 2005-2010 Los Angeles Lakers 2010-2012* Cleveland Cavaliers 2013-2014
8. Quinn Buckner-Dallas Mavericks 1993-94
9. Mack Calvin-Los Angeles Clippers 1991-92*
10. M.L. Carr-Boston Celtics 1995-1997
11. Butch Carter-Toronto Raptors 1997-98* to 1999-2000
12. Fred Carter-Philadelphia 76ers-1992-93* to 1993-94
13. Bill Cartwright-Chicago Bulls 2001-02* to 2003-04*
14. DWANE CASEY-Minnesota Timberwolves 2005-06 to 2006-07*, Toronto Raptors 2011- 2018, Detroit Pistons-PRESENT
15. Don Chaney-Los Angeles Clippers 1984-85* to 1986-87, Houston Rockets 1988-89 to 1991-92, Detroit Pistons 1993-94 to 1994-95, New York Knicks 2001-02* to *2003-04
16. Maurice Cheeks-Portland Trail Blazers 2001-02 to *2004-05, Philadelphia 76ers 2005-2008, Detroit Pistons 2013-2014
17. Jim Cleamons-Dallas Mavericks 1996-97 to 1997-98
18. Michael Cooper-Denver Nuggets 2004-05*
19. Tyrone Corbin-Utah Jazz- 2011- 2014, Sacramento Kings 2015,
20. Mel Daniels-Indiana Pacers 1988-89*
21. Johnny Davis-Philadelphia 76ers 1996-97, Orlando Magic 2003-04* to 2004-05*
- LARRY DREW-Atlanta Hawks 2010- 2013, Milwaukee Bucks 2013, Cleveland Cavaliers-PRESENT
- Mike Evans-Denver Nuggets 2001-02*
- Derrick Fisher– New York Knicks 2014-2016
- ALVIN GENTRY-Miami Heat 1994-95* Detroit Pistons 1997-98 to 1999-2000* Los Angeles Clippers 2000-01 to 2002-03* Phoenix Suns 2008- 2013, New Orleans Pelicans 2015-PRESENT
- DAVID FIZDALE-Memphis Grizzlies-2016-2017, New York Knicks 2018
- Leonard Hamilton-Washington Wizards 2000-01
- Gar Heard-Dallas Mavericks 1992-93* Washington Wizards 1999-2000*
- Lionel Hollins-Vancouver Grizzlies 1999-2000*, Memphis Grizzlies 2009-2013, Brooklyn Nets 2014-2016
- Bob Hopkins-Seattle Supersonics 1977-78
- Melvin Hunt– Denver Nuggets- 2015*
- Mark Jackson – Golden State Warriors 2011-2014
- Stu Jackson-New York Knicks 1989-90 to 1990-91 Vancouver Grizzlies 1996-97*
- Avery Johnson-Dallas Mavericks 2004-05*-2008 New Jersey-Brooklyn Nets 2010-2013
- Dennis Johnson-Los Angeles Clippers 2002-03*
- Frank Johnson-Phoenix Suns 2001-02* to 2003-04*
- Magic Johnson-Los Angeles Lakers 1993-94*
- K. C. Jones-Capital/Washington Bullets 1973-74, to 1975-76, Boston Celtics 1983-84 to 1987-88, Seattle Supersonics 1990-91 to 1991-92
- Eddie Jordan-Sacramento Kings 1996-97* to 1997-98, Washington Wizards 2003-2008, Philadelphia 76ers 2009-2010
- Jason Kidd-Brooklyn Nets 2013-2014, Milwaukee Bucks 2014-2017
- Bob Lanier-Golden State Warriors 1994-95*
- Gene Littles-Cleveland Cavaliers 1985-86*, Charlotte Hornets 1989-90* to 1990-91, Denver Nuggets 1994-95*
- Earl Lloyd-Detroit Pistons 1971-72* to 1972-73
- Sidney Lowe-Minnesota Timberwolves 1992-93* to 1993-94, Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies 2000-01 to 2002-03
- Tyronn Lue-Cleveland Cavaliers* 2014-2018
- John Lucas-San Antonio Spurs 1992-93* to 1993-94, Philadelphia 76ers 1994-95 to 1995-96, Cleveland Cavaliers 2001-02 to 2002-03*
- NATE MCMILLAN –Seattle Supersonics 2000-01* to 2004-05, Portland Trailblazers 2005-2012, Indiana Pacers 2016-PRESENT
- Sam Mitchell-Toronto Raptors 2004-2008,
- Pete Myers-Chicago Bulls 2003-04*
- Kenny Nat-Sacramento Kings 2008-2009
- Terry Porter-Milwaukee Bucks 2003-04
- LLOYD PIERCE– Atlanta Hawks-PRESENT
- Willis Reed-New York Knicks 1977-78 to 1978-79, New Jersey Nets 1987-88* to 1988-89
54 DOC RIVERS-Orlando Magic 1999-2000 to 2003-04*, Boston Celtics 2004-05 – 2013, Los Angeles Clippers 2013-PRESENT
55. Bill Russell-Boston Celtics 1966-67 to 1968-69, Seattle Supersonics 1973-74 to 1976-77, Sacramento Kings 1987-88
56 Tom Sanders-Boston Celtics 1977-78* to 1978-79
57. Byron Scott-New Jersey Nets 2000-2004*, New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets2004-2009, Cleveland Cavaliers 2009- 2013, Los Angeles Lakers 2014-2015
58. Ray Scott-Detroit Pistons 1972-73* to 1975-76
59. Brian Shaw-Denver Nuggets- 2013- 2015
- Paul Silas-San Diego Clippers 1980-81 to 1982-83, Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets 1998-99* to 2002-03, Cleveland Cavaliers 2003-04 to 2004-05*, Charlotte Bobcats 2010-2012
- Keith Smart-Cleveland Cavaliers 2002-03*, Golden State Warriors 2010-2011, Sacramento Kings 2012- 2013
- Isiah Thomas-Indiana Pacers 2000-01 to 2002-03, New York Knicks 2006-2008
- Reggie Theus-Sacramento Kings 2007-2008
- Wes Unseld-Washington Bullets 1987-88* to 1993-94
- Jacques Vaughan-Orlando Magic 2012- 2015
- Sam Vincent-Charlotte Bobcats 2007-2008
- Darrell Walker-Toronto Raptors 1996-97 to 1997- 98, Washington Wizards 1999-2000*
- Earl Watson- Phoenix Suns* 2016- 2017
- Lenny Wilkens-Seattle Supersonics 1969-70 to 1971-72, Portland Trail Blazers 1974-75 to 1975-76, Seattle Supersonics 1977-78* to 1984-85, Cleveland Cavaliers 1986-87 to 1992-93, Atlanta Hawks 1993-94 to 1999-2000, Toronto Raptors 2000-01 to 2002-03
- Monty Williams-New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans 2010- 2015
- Herb Williams-New York Knicks 2003-04*; 2004-05*
- Mike Woodson-Atlanta Hawks 2004-2010, New York Knicks 2010-2014
- Draff Young-Kansas City/Omaha Kings 1973-74*
Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian, Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston, Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network, Disabled Community Activist. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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