By Gary Norris Gray, Staff Reporter
The National Basketball Association seems to be headed in the wrong direction with over 85% African American players on the floor and less than 10% African Americans in their executive’s offices.
The League will be moving into it’s 73rd year in 2021, the NBA has had 73 Black head coaches and that’s one per year. This has to change for the future of the league. Another African American head coach was relieved of his duties after getting his team to the playoffs for a fifth year in a row; Los Angeles Clippers Head Coach, Doc Rivers.
This may not have happened if there were more African American Owners, General Managers, Presidents, Vice Presidents, and Personnel Directors, the number of African American head coaches would not be at this low level, (four).
There are 30 teams in the NBA there are only nine Black executives and one in Canada. There is something wrong with this picture.
The head coaching carousel continues to spin around with seven new openings in 2020. The Los Angeles Clippers, The Chicago Bulls, The Houston Rockets, The Indiana Pacers, The New Orleans Pelicans, The Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Philadelphia 76ers.
On Thursday, October 1st the Sixers got off of the carousel by hiring Doc Rivers from the Los Angeles Clippers. This is a start with Elton Brand the General Manager of the 76ers.
There are two General Managers in the National Football League and there are more GM’s in the NBA then Black head coaches, six. The number remains at one for ownership, His Airness, Michael Jordan of the Charlotte Hornet franchise.
There are 60 African American assistant coaches on the staff of 30 different teams. There are five Black assistant coaches that have been in Championship series.
One Black Executive has won the NBA Title and could not get that respect walking on the court with the Champion Toronto Raptors last year; team President Masai Ujiri had a tussle with an Alameda County Sheriff after the Raptors won in Oakland. The image of a Black man as President of a team did not register with the California law officer.
Question what is the problem?
Players wearing Black Lives Matter on the back of jerseys and putting those words on the court are fine but now the NFL, NBA, WNBA, and other professional sports organizations have to start producing that social change.
Mike D’Antoni former coach of the Houston Rockets seems to be getting another chance. Boston’s Brad Stevens get out of the Eastern Conference Finals, yet he is still employed in Bean Town.
Billy Donovan spent five years with the Oklahoma City Thunder before losing all of his stars then hooking up with the Chicago Bulls in 2020. Tom Thibodeau is working on his third team with the New York Knicks next spring.
The 2011 Coach of the Year moved from the Chicago Bulls in 2015 to the Minnesota Timberwolves 2016 before landing in the Big Apple.
African American head coaches rarely get a second and third try and are either forced to retire or take assistant job. Maybe just maybe Doc Rivers will break this cycle.
Doc Rivers, former head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, yes, those same Clippers that ousted Donald Sterling former owner for his racial remarks years ago. Rivers spoke up passionately after the Breonna Taylor police shooting incident in Louisville, Kentucky.
Rivers stated that African Americans love this great nation but this nation does not love African Americans in return. Question did he get fired for saying this?
Did Rivers get fired for speaking up for Black and Brown lives, or was it his failure to reach the Western Conference Finals in back to back years with All Stars? It will be interesting to see how long Rivers last in Philadelphia if he cannot bring another championship to South Philly.
Steve Nash will be the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets without any head coaching experience and Steve Kerr guided the Golden State Warriors to a championship without that same experience.
How many African American ex-basketball coaches get this chance, only the famous ones step on the floor. Lenny Wilkens, Willis Reed, Bill Russell, Magic Johnson, Mark Jackson, and Jason Kidd have tried their hand for a short time.
The NBA has to fix this problem. The opportunity is there with the recent openings in 2020.
Current African American head coaches as of October 1, 2020
1.) Lloyd Pierce- Atlanta Hawks
2.) J.B. Bickerstaff- Cleveland Cavaliers
3.) Dwayne Casey- Detroit Pistons
4.) Monty Williams- Phoenix Suns
5.) Doc Rivers- Philadelphia 76ers.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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