Updated: November 22, 2012

 Gary Norris Gray- BASN Staff Reporter

In Southern California last week a mini quake shocked the Los Angeles
area. It speaks volumes about race relations in the United States of
America, National Basketball League (NBA), and Black leadership. Mike
Brown was released of his duties on Monday November 11th. He was
replaced with the ex-New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns head coach Mike

The NBA leads the four major sports in the employment of African Americans in the executive positions. Baseball is still bringing up the cows tail with no Black ownership, no general managers, and only two African American managers.

In the NBA there are 30 male and 12 female professional basketball teams. There are six part-time Black General managers and owners in both leagues.

Sheila Johnson is the only Black female team president, managing  partner, and governor of the WNBA Washington Mystics. Lisa Leslie co-owned the Los Angeles Sparks in 2009, Leslie is the first and only Black player to invest in her former team.

Robert L. Johnson and Michael Jordan are part owners of the Charlotte Bobcats. Rapper and singer Carnell “Nelly” Haynes Jr. also have invested in the Charlotte Bobcats and WNBA Charlotte Sting. Jada and Will Smith have invested in the Philadelphia Seventy Sixers; and last  Jay-Z  invested in the moving of the New Jersey Nets to Brooklyn and his home
state of New York.

The Los Angeles Lakers could have and should have hired veteran Bernie Bickerstaff. Bernie was assistant coach and won the first two games of the year as acting head coach. It did not happen. The Los Angeles Lakers went outside of their organization and hired Mike D’Antoni. The Lakers with  D’Antoni won his first game Tuesday night. Bickerstaff went 5-1 as interim head coach.

Let’s start at the beginning.

All-Star, and Hall of Fame, Center, Bill Russell became the first African American head coach in the league. Russell was also the first African American to win a championship. He took over the Boston Celtics in November,1966, as a player-coach before moving on to Seattle where he retired.                                                                                                                                                                                There have been 60 African-American head coaches in the NBA in over 75 years, that is an average of 0.92 coaches per year.

Five of these fine gentlemen have won championships as head coaches –
Bill Russell-Boston Celtics (1968, 1969), Al Attles-Golden State
Warriors (1975), Lenny Wilkens-Seattle SuperSonics (1979), and K.C.
Jones-Boston Celtics (1984, 1986) Doc Rivers-Boston Celtics (2008).
There have been three other African American coaches that have taken
their teams to the championship series but did not win. Two of them
accomplished this fete multiple times.

Byron Scott’s reward for taking the New Jersey Nets to three straight Eastern Conference Finals is coaching in the Arctic Circle and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Avery Johnson’s reward for taking the Dallas Mavericks to the Western Conference Finals is the bright lights of the Big Apple and the battle for the old New York Knick fan base. Johnson
leads the New Jersey- Brooklyn Nets, Johnson is the coach who reached 150 wins the fastest with the Dallas Mavericks. Lastly, Mike Brown’s reward for taking the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Eastern Conference
Championship twice and NBA Finals would be a trip to Los Angeles and the dysfunctional Lakers including their star divas. Brown was relieved of his coaching duties this month.

The Current roster of 2012 Black Coaches to lead their teams on the floor are.

Byron Scott (Cleveland), Doc Rivers (Boston) Avery Johnson (New Jersey-Brooklyn), Mike Woodson (N.Y. Knicks), Dwayne Casey (Toronto), Lionel Hollins (Memphis), Tyrone Corbin (Utah), Larry Drew (Atlanta),
Alvin Gentry (Phoenix), Monty Williams (New Orleans), Mark Jackson (Golden State), Jacques Vaughan (Orlando), and Keith Smart (Sacramento).

The current roster is at its lowest number for sometime.

Doc Rivers is the longest tenured African American head coach. Rivers has guided Boston since 2004. He is the only current coach to have a championship ring.
There are 30 teams in the NBA and 14 African American head coaches.
The League have 80-85% African American players on the floor This has been a major question the past decade should the coaching staff be a reflection of the players on the floor.

Black head coaches get only one chance to show their talent on the bench with a few exceptions. If African Americans don’t succeed in their first job they rarely get a 2nd or 3rd chance, unlike Larry Brown, Rick Adelman, Kevin McHale, George Karl, Doug Collins returns to the Philadelphia 76ers, and now Mike D’Antoni moves on to the Los Angeles Lakers job, after stints in Phoenix and New York. Mr. D’Antoni led the Suns in back to back appearances in the Western Conference Finals.

There are almost four times the number of Black assistant coaches in the league. Should these men get a chance to be head coaches? Keith Smart, Mark Jackson, Avery Johnson all have come from the assistant’s
chair to lead their teams. Is it a coincidence that all three were
former players in the league just as the four NBA championship team
led by Black coaches.


All-Time African-American Head Coaches
Coach   Team    Years

Al Attles
S.F./Golden State Warriors
1969-70* to 1982-83

Randy Ayers
Philadelphia 76ers

Elgin Baylor
New Orleans Jazz
1974-75; 1976-77 to 1978-79

Butch Beard
New Jersey Nets
1994-95 to 1995-96

Bernie Bickerstaff
Seattle SuperSonics 1985-86 to 1989-90
Denver Nuggets 1994-95 to 1996-97
Washington Wizards 1996-97 to 1998-99
Charlotte Bobcats 2004-05-2010
Los Angeles Lakers  2012*

Mike Brown
Cleveland Cavaliers 2005-2010
Los Angeles Lakers  2010-2012

Quinn Buckner
Dallas Mavericks 1993-94

Mack Calvin
Los Angeles Clippers 1991-92*

M.L. Carr
Boston Celtics  1995-96 to 1996-97

Butch Carter
Toronto Raptors 1997-98* to 1999-2000

Fred Carter
Philadelphia 76ers      1992-93* to 1993-94

Bill Cartwright
Chicago Bulls 2001-02* to 2003-04*

Dwayne Casey

Minnesota Timberwolves 2005-06 to 2006-07*
Toronto Raptors 2011- to present

Don Chaney
Los Angeles Clippers    1984-85* to 1986-87

Houston Rockets 1988-89 to 1991-92
Detroit Pistons 1993-94 to 1994-95
New York Knicks 2001-02* to *2003-04

Maurice Cheeks
Portland Trail Blazers 2001-02 to *2004-05
Philadelphia 76ers  2005-2008

Jim Cleamons
Dallas Mavericks        1996-97 to 1997-98

Michael Cooper
Denver Nuggets  2004-05*

Mel Daniels
Indiana Pacers 1988-89*

Johnny Davis
Philadelphia 76ers  1996-97
Orlando Magic   2003-04* to 2004-05*

Mike Evans
Denver Nuggets  2001-02*

Larry Drew

Atlanta Hawks   2010-To present

Alvin Gentry
Miami Heat 1994-95*
Detroit Pistons 1997-98 to 1999-2000*

Los Angeles Clippers 2000-01 to 2002-03*
Phoenix Suns 2008- to present

Kenny Nat  Sacramento Kings  2008-2009

Reggie Theus Sacramento Kings 2007-2008

Sam Vincent Charlotte Bobcats 2007-2008

Leonard Hamilton Washington Wizards 2000-01

Gar Heard
Dallas Mavericks        1992-93*
Washington Wizards      1999-2000*

Lionel Hollins
Vancouver Grizzlies 1999-2000*
Memphis Grizzlies  2009-To present
Bob Hopkins
Seattle SuperSonics     1977-78

Stu Jackson
New York Knicks 1989-90 to 1990-91
Vancouver Grizzlies     1996-97*

Avery Johnson
Dallas Mavericks 2004-05*-2008
New Jersey-Brookyn Nets 2010-To present

Dennis Johnson
Los Angeles Clippers    2002-03*

Frank Johnson
Phoenix Suns 2001-02* to 2003-04*

Magic Johnson
Los Angeles Lakers 1993-94*

K.C. Jones
Capital/Washington Bullets      1973-74 to 1975-76

Boston Celtics 1983-84 to 1987-88
Seattle SuperSonics 1990-91 to 1991-92

Eddie Jordan
Sacramento Kings 1996-97* to 1997-98
Washington Wizards 2003-2008
Philadelphia 76ers      2009-2010

Bob Lanier
Golden State Warriors   1994-95*

Gene Littles
Cleveland Cavaliers 1985-86*
Charlotte Hornets   1989-90* to 1990-91
Denver Nuggets  1994-95*

Earl Lloyd
Detroit Pistons 1971-72* to 1972-73

Sidney Lowe

Minnesota Timberwolves 1992-93* to 1993-94

Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies 2000-01 to 2002-03

John Lucas
San Antonio Spurs 1992-93* to 1993-94
Philadelphia 76ers      1994-95 to 1995-96

Cleveland Cavaliers     2001-02 to 2002-03*

Nate McMillan
Seattle SuperSonics     2000-01* to 2004-05
Portland Trailblazers   2005-2012

Sam Mitchell
Toronto Raptors 2004-05 to present

Pete Myers
Chicago Bulls   2003-04*

Terry Porter
Milwaukee Bucks 2003-04

Willis Reed
New York Knicks 1977-78 to 1978-79
New Jersey Nets 1987-88* to 1988-89

Doc Rivers
Orlando Magic 1999-2000 to 2003-04*
Boston Celtics  2004-05 to present

Bill Russell
Boston Celtics  1966-67 to 1968-69
Seattle SuperSonics     1973-74 to 1976-77
Sacramento Kings        1987-88

Tom Sanders
Boston Celtics  1977-78* to 1978-79

Byron Scott
New Jersey Nets 2000-2004*
New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets2004-2009
Cleveland Cavaliers 2009- to Present

Ray Scott
Detroit Pistons 1972-73* to 1975-76

Paul Silas
San Diego Clippers      1980-81 to 1982-83
Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets 1998-99* to 2002-03
Cleveland Cavaliers     2003-04 to 2004-05*
Charlotte Bobcats       2010-2012

Keith Smart
Cleveland Cavaliers 2002-03*
Golden State Warriors 2010-2011
Sacramento Kings 2012- to present

Isiah Thomas
Indiana Pacers  2000-01 to 2002-03

New York Knicks 2006-2008

Wes Unseld
Washington Bullets      1987-88* to 1993-94

Darrell Walker
Toronto Raptors 1996-97 to 1997-98
Washington Wizards 1999-2000*

Lenny Wilkens
Seattle SuperSonics  1969-70 to 1971-72
Portland Trail Blazers  1974-75 to 1975-76
Seattle SuperSonics  1977-78* to 1984-85
Cleveland Cavaliers  1986-87 to 1992-93
Atlanta Hawks 1993-94 to 1999-2000
Toronto Raptors 2000-01 to 2002-03

Monty Williams

New Orleans Hornets 2010- to present

Jacques Vaughan

Orlando Magic   2012- to present

Herb Williams

New York Knicks 2003-04*; 2004-05*

Mike Woodson
Atlanta Hawks2004-2010
New York Knicks 2010-to present

Draff Young
Kansas City/Omaha Kings 1973-74*
* Coached part of that season

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 on Disabled Community Activist. Email at

©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod

One Comment

  1. Eric Graham

    November 22, 2012 at 7:39 am

    Excellent!! Highly informative!!! Well-researched!!

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