The NBA is far away from where it needs to be in terms of hiring Black head coaches and general managers. However, a bit of progress was made this summer as seven of the league's eight head coaching openings were filled by Black men.
In Boston, the Celtics promoted former head coach Brad Stevens to a managerial position and hired Ime Udoka as its head coach. Behind the scenes, Celtics Forward Jaylen Brown had been pushing for the franchise to hire a Black head coach for some time now. During a recent interview with The Undefeated, Brown expounded on the importance of hiring Udoka in Boston, Wes Unseld Jr. in Washington, D.C., Nate McMillan in Atlanta, Jamahl Mosley in Orlando and Willie Green in New Orleans.
“Whether it was because they were just trying to shut us up, or because they actually believed it was the right thing to do, it doesn’t matter to me. That representation is important,” Brown explained.
“And that’s giving people access and resources that they need and deserve to have, especially former players. They deserve to have a seat at the table too, especially in coaching positions, as well as in-office positions, ownership positions. Those are important as well, especially if they’re qualified."
Udoka is more than qualified for this position. Over the last ten years, he has worked as an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs, Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets. He also played for the Spurs, Portland Trailblazers, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers during his seven-year NBA career.
“That’s my argument. People may disagree, like, ‘They’re not qualified. They’re just getting the job because they’re African American.’ You’ve seen people say that in the media. And things like that," Brown continued.
"There’s plenty of qualified African Americans and Black people that can do their job. And they deserve to have a seat at the table.”
Udoka will officially sit down at the table when the Celtics open their 2021-2022 season against the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden.