Updated: July 14, 2013


Gary Norris Gray- BASN Staff Reporter


NBA BLACK HEAD COACHES AND OWNERS 1966-2013 Last year in Southern California a mini quake shocked the Los Angeles area. It speaks volumes about race relations in the United States of America, The National Basketball League (NBA), and Black leadership. Mike Brown was released of his duties in 2012. He was replaced with the ex-

New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns head coach Mike D’Antoni.

The D’Antoni lead Lakers stumbled through the 2012-13 season, winning one round in the playoffs. Los Angeles guard Kobe Bean Bryant ended the year with a leg injury in Golden State. Ex-Laker center Dwight Howard will be putting on the red and gold of Houston starting all over again with the Rockets. So Mr. D’Antoni’s Run and Gun Showtime will have to find other players to make his system work. It will not happen with Mr. Nash’s tired legs and Kobe Bryant’s age.

The NBA still leads the four major sports in the employment of African Americans at executive positions. Baseball is still bringing up the cows’ tail with no Black ownership, no general managers, and three African American managers a whopping increase of one from 2012.

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 is the first and only Black player to invest in her former team, she also co-owned the Los Angeles Sparks.

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 Usher is part owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Jada and Will Smith have invested in the Philadelphia Seventy-Sixers; and rapper, entertainer Jay-Z moved the New Jersey Nets to Brooklyn and his home state of New York. The Barkley Center will be cooking this year with the new look Nets and Rookie Coach Jason Kidd.


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 of 1966, as a player-coach before moving on to Seattle and the SuperSonics where he retired.

There have been over 60 African-American head coaches in the NBA in over 75 years that is an average of 0.92 coaches per year. In 2013 it has not changed with losing five and hiring four.

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). Notice three of the five come from the 18 time NBA Champion Boston Celtics.

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 was coaching in the Arctic Circle and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Scott got his walking papers this year and is still looking for a job. 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 dominance with the old New York Knick fan base. Johnson reached 150 wins the fastest ever by any coach with the Dallas Mavericks and New Jersey Nets. Johnson’s reward for a NBA record, was his walking papers, and no future job in 2013.  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 early in the 2012-13 season. This year Brown will head back home to Cleveland to revive the Cavaliers franchise who have not won more than 30 games since the departure of number 23, LeBron James.

By the way the Cleveland Cavalier owner Dan Gilbert stated that his team would win the NBA title faster than the LeBron James’ Miami Heat. Guess we can forget about that statement. The Heat have won two championships with a chance to win a third. While the Cavaliers have been in last place the past three years in the weak Central Division.

The Current roster of 2013 Black Coaches to lead their teams on the floor are. Two rookie Black head coaches Jason Kidd (Brooklyn Nets), and Brian Shaw(Denver Nuggets).

There are four coaches beginning their third season Mark Jackson (Golden State), Tyrone Corbin (Utah), Dwayne Casey (Toronto) and Jacques Vaughan (Orlando). Jackson moved his team into the Semi Finals of the Western Conference Championship round against the San Antonio Spurs.


The cagy veterans are Doc Rivers who moved from the east coast to the west coast and the (Los Angeles Clippers), Mike Woodson (N.Y. Knicks), Larry Drew (Milwaukee), and Monty Williams (New Orleans). Woodson put the word defense in the New York Knick vocabulary and improved 12 games. Rivers took a wounded Boston team into the playoffs with a bunch of 2nd string players. Nobody expected the Celtics to even make the playoffs.

There are still two head coaching positions open, The Atlanta Hawks and the Philadelphia Seventy Sixers. If one team hires an African American it will be status quo for another year in the NBA.

In 2013 the NBA lost five Black head coaches Bryon Scott (Cleveland), Avery Johnson (Brooklyn), Lionel Hollins (Memphis), Keith Smart (Sacramento) and Alvin Gentry (Phoenix). 3 of the 5 were questionable firings and once again proves that if you are an African American and win it does not guarantee that you’ll have a job at the end of the season. Black head coaches receive one chance to show talent on the bench. If African Americans don’t succeed in their first job they rarely get a 2nd or 3rd chance, unlike Don Nelson, Doug Collins, Larry Brown, Rick Adelman, Kevin McHale, George Karl, 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 numbers of Black assistant coaches in the league. Should these men get a chance to be a head coach?

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 2003-04*

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*

Cleveland Cavaliers 2013

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

Detroit Pistons 2013

Jim Cleamons Dallas Mavericks 1996-97 to 1997-98

Michael Cooper Denver Nuggets 2004-05*

Tyron Corbin

Utah Jazz- 2010- to Present

Mel Daniels Indiana Pacers 1988-89*

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

Larry Drew

Atlanta Hawks 2010- 2013

Milwaukee Bucks 2013

Mike Evans Denver Nuggets 2001-02*

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

Los Angeles Clippers 2000-01 to 2002-03* Phoenix Suns 2008- 2013

Leonard Hamilton

Washington Wizards 2000-01

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

Lionel Hollins Vancouver Grizzlies 1999-2000* Memphis Grizzlies 2009-2013 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-Brooklyn Nets 2010-2013

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

Jason Kidd

Brooklyn Nets 2013

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*

Kenny Nat

Sacramento Kings 2008-2009

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 – 2013

Los Ang. Clippers 2013

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- 2013

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

Brian Shaw

Denver Nuggets- 2013

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- 2013

Isiah Thomas Indiana Pacers 2000-01 to 2002-03

New York Knicks 2006-2008

Reggie Theus

Sacramento Kings 2007-2008

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

Jacques Vaughan

Orlando Magic 2012- to present

Sam Vincent

Charlotte Bobcats 2007-2008

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/Pelicans 2010- to present

Herb Williams

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

Mike Woodson Atlanta Hawks 2004-2010 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

    July 15, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Great information!!! Good historical piece!!!

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