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Black coaches now lead half of NBA teams; puts NFL owners under the microscope

Black coaches now lead half of NBA teams; puts NFL owners under the microscope

Jun 03
SW Creative
  • SportsWriters

With less than 100 days until the 2022 season kicks off, and just a week after the NFL hosted a black coach “diversity summit,” the NBA showed us how unnecessary those summits are on running a league where the best person gets the job done.

Detroit’s Dwane Casey, Phoenix’s Monty Williams, Cleveland’s J.B. Bickerstaff, Philadelphia’s Doc Rivers, the Los Angeles Clippers’ Tyronn Lue, Houston’s Stephen Silas, and Atlanta’s Nate McMillan are the seven Black coaches who were coaching last season.

They’ve been joined in the last year by Boston’s IME Udoka, Sacramento’s Mike Brown, Portland’s Chauncey Billups, Dallas’ Jason Kidd, Orlando’s Jamahl Mosley, Washington’s Wes Unseld Jr., New Orleans’ Willie Green, and last week the Los Angeles Lakers hired Darvin Ham.


Work to Do

We have only recently seen Black coaches take over a league that prides itself on diversity. At least 70 percent of the players in the NBA today are black. In terms of diversity, there are still areas where the NBA can improve. Michael Jordan is the only Black principal owner of a franchise, as he leads the Charlotte Hornets, which is the only team with a coaching vacancy right now.

February 20, 2022: Cleveland, Ohio, USA; NBA great Michael Jordan is honored for being selected to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team during halftime of the 2022 NBA All-Star Game at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Photo by Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

They Have Peered From The Mountain Top

The pinnacle of African-American coaching in the NFL occurred in 2007, when Lovie Smith (Bears) and Tony Dungy (Colts) met in the Super Bowl. It is still the only time two Black coaches have met in the biggest sporting event on the planet.

Since 2000, there have only been five Black coaches in the Super Bowl. The last one to do so was Mike Tomlin 10 years ago in 2011.

Dungy was a Catalyst

Bruce Arians created the environment for minority coaches in Tampa Bay that the Rooney Rule was supposed to do for the NFL. He had the most minority coaches of any team on staff, 2 women position coaches and 4 Black Coordinators/Assistant Head Coaches. And they won. Thank you BA.

- Robert Griffin III

When They Wore Leather


Pollard (left) and Paul Robeson in a photo from the March 1918 issue of The Crisis.

There was one Black head coach in the NFL in 1921, a very small but very fast running back named Fritz Pollard. Pollard coached and played at a time when restaurants would not serve him and hotels shunned him. Despite earning $1,500 a game as the highest paid player in the league, he could not dress with his team. Football pioneer Walter Camp called Pollard “one of the greatest runners these eyes have ever seen.”


"It's terribly ironic that we live in a time that Fritz Pollard's own coaching experience in the NFL isn't really that different from today, The NFL has one fundamental belief about Black coaches. They believe that Black head coaches are not fit to be leaders of men."

- Aron Solomon, chief legal analyst with Today's Esquire

Mike McDaniel
one of the few recent NFL minority hires

Jun 2, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel talks to reporters during a press conference after minicamp at Hard Rock Stadium. Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

"I identify as a human being and my dad is Black,"

- Mike McDaniel