Updated: June 1, 2014

by:- Gary Norris Gray- BASN STAFF REPORTER

maqgAs the 2014 professional basketball season comes to a close with their conference finals the more things change the more they remain the same.

The National Basketball Association is 68 years old starting in 1946. There are a total of 62 African American head coaches and there are currently 30 teams in the league.

This result could be summed up as 0.92 or just one Black head coach per year, and with 80 % of the players on the court today being African American, it is not a good demographic. There are 42 pro basketball teams and only two majority owners and 12 minority owners. Yes, it is an increase since 1970 but The NBA has to have a better hiring performance.

The ongoing Donald Sterling case will bring out this growing issue in the coming weeks.. The NBA may have been dragging their collective feet for years on minority ownership. Just stating the facts, it’s not good enough. Yet the NBA leads the way of professional sports in the hiring of minorities and women. IT STILL NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!!!  The League lost four Black head coaches this year. The National Basketball League once again had the opportunity to continue to be the leader in the four major sports in the employment of Black head coaches, general managers, owners, and presidents.

The NBA wanted to oust Mr. Sterling because of his views on race yet the League did not lift a finger to help minorities in the ownership of  the Los Angeles Clippers, in fact they made it more difficult. The on-going scandal in Los Angeles opened the door for African American ownership of the Southern California team. IT DID NOT HAPPEN !!!! The Donald Sterling affair has given the NBA another black eye.  mj

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 came alive this year with the new look Nets and second year Coach Jason Kidd battling the defending NBA Champion Miami Heat in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

In the past African Americans were not allowed to play until 1958. The First Black coach was Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics in 1969, 12 years later.

russellAll-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. Russell guided the Boston Celtic to another championship. He would move on to Seattle and the SuperSonics where he retired.

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 that year and is still looking for a job.

Avery Johnson’s reward for taking the Dallas Mavericks to the Western Conference Finals was 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 that NBA record was his walking papers and no future job in 2013.  Johnson is currently the basketball analysts on ESPN.

Lastly, Mike Brown’s reward for taking the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Eastern Conference Championship twice and NBA Finals was 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 headed 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. It did not work because Brown was fired at the end of this season, AGAIN.mikeb

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

This year both second year head coaches, Mark Jackson and Jason Kidd guided their underachieving teams to the playoffs. Jackson is currently unemployed while Kidd will live another year. Mike Woodson of the New York Knicks joined Brown losing his job to the ZEN Master (Phil Jackson) and the Triangle Offense.

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).

In 2014 four more coaches received their walking papers Mike Woodson(New York Knicks), Mike Brown(Cleveland), Maurice Cheeks(Detroit), and Mark Jackson(Golden State).

Currently the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers, are still in the hunt for a new head coach.

Last the number of Black assistant coaches has doubled in 2014. 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 2013-2014

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

cheeksMaurice Cheeks Portland Trail Blazers 2001-02 to *2004-05 Philadelphia 76ers  2005-2008, Detroit Pistons 2013-2014

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

Mark Jackson – Golden State Warriors 2011-2014

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 1975-76kc

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-Present

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

riversDoc Rivers Orlando Magic 1999-2000 to 2003-04* Boston Celtics 2004-05 – 2013

Los Angeles Clippers 2013-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- 2013

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

Brian Shaw-Denver Nuggets- 2013- To Present

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

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 2010-2014

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, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network on Disabled Community Activist. Email at

©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod

— welcome to the GLC the gray leopard cove

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