By Gary Norris Gray, Staff Reporter

The NBA has 30 teams in the league and half of the head coaching jobs will be filled by African Americans for the 2022-23 season. The highest number since ten years ago. The NBA is proving to the NFL that it does not need the Rooney Rule to fill head coaching positions which the football league has failed to enforce, repeatedly.

The NBA and the National Basketball Coaches Association, led by president and Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlisle, created the NBA Coaches Equality Initiative. Leery of an NFL-like “Rooney Rule,” the NBA and NBCA developed a coaches database that includes profiles of nearly 275 coaches. The database gives hiring executives a more comprehensive look at who is available and what they’ve accomplished with the idea of expanding the pool of qualified candidates.

The NFL refuses to do this system so they continue the merry-go-round with old recycled head coaches and losing Black football fans and qualified coaches with each passing year.

Last year, seven Black NBA assistant coaches were hired to head coaching positions, after an all-time-low in 20 years. They are Nate McMillian with Atlanta, Ime Udoka with Boston; Jason Kidd with Dallas; Willie Green with New Orleans; Jamahl Mosley with Orlando; Chauncy Billups with Portland; and Wesley Unseld Jr. with Washington.

All but three of these new head coaches made the playoffs this year. Next year, there will be two more African American head coaches added to the growing list, Mike Brown with the Sacramento Kings and Darvin Ham with the Los Angeles Lakers.



This June, the Golden State Warriors take on the Boston Celtics for the NBA title in 2022 with head coaches Steve Kerr (Golden State) and Ime Udoka (Boston). Both came through San Antonio and the Spurs Organization and the Popovich system.

Last year, two more San Antonio Spurs assistants battled for the NBA title with the Milwaukee Bucks beating the Phoenix Suns. Mike Budenholzer (Milwaukee) battled Monty Williams (Phoenix) in the 2021 NBA Finals.


The Charlotte Hornets hired the young James Borrego in 2018 to lead their team on the floor. He learned as an assistant in San Antonio from 2003-to 2010 and returned in 2015-to 2018. Many are expecting the Hornets to improve next year under Borrego’s guidance and the San Antonio Spur history.


Popovich and the Spurs organization seem to be ahead of the coaching curve. He did not care whether the coach was Black, white, or female, just as long as that coach improved his system. The Spurs organization was consistently hiring Black and female assistant coaches. Becky Hammon would be the first female assistant in the league. Hammon is now the head coach of the WNBA Las Vegas Aces battling for the Western Conference crown.


In 2022, Mike Brown will add another head coach from the Popovich tree after this year’s playoffs in San Francisco. Brown is currently an assistant to the Golden State Warriors. Brown also helped Kerr twice in his absence from the playoffs with a 13-1 record in Oakland-San Francisco.

The Spurs-Popovich system can be seen all over the league. Mike Brown led the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals twice and the Los Angeles Lakers to a Division title in 2012 following the Laker coaching legend Phil Jackson.

Udoka was passed over many times by Detroit, Indiana, and Cleveland to name a few. But he kept digesting the coaching lessons in San Antonio and the Popovich system. It paid off as the Boston Celtics and Udoka are on a redemption tour. He will be the sixth coach from the Popovich tree in the Championship round.

The Popovich-San Antonio Spur System has been implanted all over the National Basketball Association. Letting players rest in a back-to-back game situation. Many teams have adopted this format and can now be seen all over the league.

Teams taking their star player out of the game at the 2 min. mark at the end of a quarter in which the Golden State Warriors are masters. Substituting Steph Curry, Klay Thomson, and Draymond Green with the wiz kids before halftime and at the end of the third quarter, this coaching philosophy is traced back to the San Antonio Spurs and Gregg Popovich.

The NBA Fan base and the upper management do not like it because they want to see the stars every game, but the Spurs system works and players do not get injured as often.  


Darvin Ham is the last African-American hired in the NBA in May 2022 by the Los Angeles Lakers. In 2020-2021 Ham helped the Milwaukee Bucks win their second NBA title as an assistant coach and Mr. Ham has a massive project ahead of him in Los Angeles to fix this storied franchise.  

So the NBA is light years ahead of the NFL with three Black Head Coaches (Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers; Lovie Smith, Houston Texans, and Michael McDaniel, Miami Dolphins) and Major League Baseball which only has two African American managers (Dusty Baker, Houston Astros, and Dave Roberts, Los Angeles Dodgers).

This NEW light is beginning to shine on the NBA. The San Antonio Spurs and Gregg Popovich continue with their game plan of expanding the NBA minority coaching pool while the NFL and MLB continue to struggle.

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 on Disabled Community Activist. Email

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