With only a few weeks before NBA training camps begin, and less than two months from a Dec. 22 start date, all of the league’s head coaching vacancies have been officially filled.
All 30 franchises have their guy, but in a league that’s approximately 80 percent Black, only seven of those guys are Black. During the 2012-13 season, the NBA was enjoying its best mark as it boasted 14 Black head coaches. But eight seasons and a national “racial awakening” later, the “most progressive league in sports” only has half that number.
And for anybody that’s hoping the NBA will adopt a “Rooney Rule” of its own, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Adam Silver nixed that idea in September.
Since the NBA shut things down in March, there were nine vacancies. Those teams included the Nets, Bulls, Thunder, Sixers, Clippers, Rockets, Pacers, Pelicans, and Knicks. Between those nine jobs, Black coaches only filled three of the vacancies as Doc Rivers went to Philly, Ty Lue took Rivers’ old spot with the Clippers, and Stephen Silas got the job in Houston.
Brooklyn shook things up by hiring Steve Nash, Billy Donovan left OKC for Chicago, the Thunder promoted Mark Daigneault, Indiana brought in Nate Bjorkgren from Toronto’s bench, and the Pelicans and Knicks went with experience by hiring Stan Van Gundy and Tom Thibodeau, respectively.
Ironically, the NBA has 10 Black general managers with Elton Brand (Sixers), Troy Weaver (Pistons), James Jones (Suns), Koby Altman (Cavs), Rafael Stone (Rockets), Scott Perry (Knicks), Marc Eversley (Bulls), Calvin Booth (Nuggets), Brian Wright (Spurs), and Trajan Langdon (Pelicans).
However, the caveat is that in most of these situations there is a president of basketball operations that they report to that actually makes all of the roster and coaching decisions, and has the final say on hiring. And that person usually isn’t Black. Back in 2018, the Knicks, oddly enough, had a Black president in Steve Mills, a Black GM in Perry, and a Black head coach in David Fizdale.
Funny how quickly things can change, because as you see, progress is all about perspective.