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Half of NBA’s Coaches are Black for First Time in History

Black Head Coaches in NBA / Credit: Black Coaches Association

Two recent developments have put the spotlight on Black coaches in the NBA like
never before.

The Boston Celtics’ Head coach Ime Udoka has led the team to the NBA Finals in his first season. They take on the Golden State Warriors Thursday night in Game 1 of the 2022 Finals.

“He’s done a phenomenal of learning everybody’s personalities and I feel like as that has happened, it allowed everybody to trust him even more,” said Celtics player Grant Williams of Udoka.

And last week, the Los Angeles Lakers announced the hiring of 48-year-old Darvin Ham as their next head coach. Ham was previously the lead assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Ham’s hiring brings the number of NBA Head Coaches who are Black to 15; half of the league’s 30 teams, for the first time in history, including the Dallas Mavericks’ Jason Kidd.

The numbers mark a stark evolution in the thinking of the NBA and those in positions to hire and fire.

Ime Udoka
Ime Udoka / Credit: NBA/Boston Celtics

During Wednesday’s NBA Finals media availability, Celtics player Jaylen Brown was asked about the historic time for Black coaches in the NBA and what it means to him.

“If you’re asking me, I don’t understand what took so long, to be honest. I think
that, of course, now it’s a great thing to see and you see a lot of coaches that are
getting an opportunity to flourish in these moments.

“Ime (Udoka, Boston Celtics head coach) is a product of that. First-year head coach in the Finals, which is — I don’t know how many times that’s been done before,” Brown said.

“Overall, I think that’s an example, not just in the NBA but our society as a whole,
just opportunity is important. A lot of times we look at like things like that as more
so — what’s the words I’m looking for? There’s things that systemically go on that
keep people out of positions that may go unnoticed, like opportunities, etc.

Ime Udoka
Ime Udoka / Credit: NBA/Boston Celtics

“But those make the biggest differences in the world, not being able to go to school, not being able to get in school, not being able to get jobs, not being able to get houses, not being able to do things that you should have the right to do, obviously is important.

“Of course, this is the NBA, and we’re talking about that. But I think that can be related to a grand scheme of things that kind of goes on in America,” he said. Warriors player Andre Iguodala also weighed in on the state of the NBA’s Black coaches and how in the past the really never got the chance to succeed.

“I’ve been through part of my career, which early on, you know, a lot of the former players who got opportunities, who are African American, if it didn’t quite go their way, that narrative was really drawn out and it was really hard for them to get more than one opportunity. Their only opportunity was make or break,” he said.

Ime Udoka
Ime Udoka / Credit: NBA/Boston Celtics

“You had to overachieve, or you never got the opportunity again and no one really talked about that.“

Just kind of how the headlines looked, when you portray Black coaches historically hasn’t been in a fair light, where the other side, you know, you had that term “the good ol’ boys’ club,” where you’re just recycling the names over and over again. The NCAA is essentially that right now.”

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Written By

Dorothy Gentry is the sports editor for the Texas Metro News.

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