Adam Silver on Lack of Black NBA Head Coaches: 'I Know We Can Do Better'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistOctober 1, 2020

FILE - In this Aug. 19, 2020, file photo, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver attends an NBA basketball game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Clippers in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Silver talked about the challenges the league will face going forward, in his annual state-of-the-league address before Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday, Sept. 30. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool, File)
Ashley Landis/Associated Press

The NBA currently has just four Black head coaches—Lloyd Pierce in Atlanta, J.B. Bickerstaff in Cleveland, Monty Williams in Phoenix and Dwayne Casey in Detroit. 

And commissioner Adam Silver said on Wednesday ahead of Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat that the dwindling number of black head coaches was something the NBA needed to improve upon:

That number may increase when teams with head-coaching vacancies—the Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers and New Orleans Pelicans—fill their openings. Doc Rivers is expected to surface with a team after parting ways with the Clippers this offseason. Tyronn Lue, Sam Cassell, Wes Unseld Jr. and Stephen Silas, among others, have made the rounds as potential hires. 

Two other Black head coaches, Nate McMillan in Indiana and Alvin Gentry in New Orleans, were fired this offseason. 

Even if all five teams with vacancies hired a Black head coach, however, less than half the NBA would have Black head coaches. That's simply not an acceptable number for a league with a player base that is 80 percent Black.  

"Some of the guys are frustrated," an assistant coach told Monte Poole of NBC Sports.

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"The list of qualified Black assistants, guys putting in their time and going nowhere, seems to be getting longer and longer," another assistant coach added. 

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr agreed.

"We've got to do better in the NBA... I think the NBA does a pretty good job but much like the rest of society, there are inherent advantages when you're a white person," he said earlier in September, per Jon Becker of The Mercury News. "It's important that white people are aware of the lack of opportunity that a lot of Black people are facing, and we've got to address that."

The NBA, in particular, has to face the issue in its head coaching ranks.