The Los Angeles Lakers made it official in hiring Darvin Ham to be the next head coach of the franchise. That hiring has added to the number of black coaches in the NBA, which has seen a great increase in recent years with now half of the teams in the league employed coaches of color.
This push for more diversity is something NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has been very open about, regularly speaking on the topic and that is not an accident. Silver recently noted that speaking on it regularly is necessary if you truly are serious about diversity.
“I mean, if you care about diversity and inclusion in your workplace, you’ve got to look at the data,” Silver noted. “You’ve got to constantly present it to your colleagues, to your department heads, to your teams, and it has to become a focus. It’s my job in part to say that’s a priority for this organization.
“At the same time, having said that, while I’m particularly proud of those numbers and roughly 50 percent of our head coaches are Black now, the goal is that that’s not newsworthy, and that when people are hired, their first reaction isn’t the color of their skin. I don’t want to be naïve, either, though, because I know that what we do in this league is important symbolically, not just for sports but for other industries, and people watch us all around the world.”
As Silver noted, the hope is that eventually this type of thing doesn’t become news at all and we focus on the merits of the person being hired as opposed to skin color. But in this world, that simply isn’t possible just yet.
Silver also spoke to something else the NBA has been focused on that is contributing to the increase in black head coaches. “What we’re also seeing and this is something we very much focused on is the emergence of a whole new class of former players who have moved into head coaching positions.”
The Lakers’ hiring of Ham certainly falls under that category and there are many others as well. Phoenix Suns’ Monty Williams was the NBA Coach of the Year this season while Ime Udoka has taken the Boston Celtics to the NBA Finals in his first year on the job. Not to mention the likes of Tyronn Lue, Chauncey Billups, Jason Kidd and Willie Green have all seen success.
But Silver doesn’t believe his work is done as he is looking toward other areas of the NBA in hopes of seeing the same level of diversity.
“The follow-up to your question, which might come, what about the rest of the positions in the league? I’m proud of the job we have done in the league office. We are making a lot of progress in terms of general managers, team presidents, both on basketball side and the business side, but more work to be done.”
Rasheed Wallace identified as potential member of Darvin Ham’s staff
Ham was the latest black coach to be hired in the NBA and he spent years as an assistant before finally getting his opportunity. Ham reportedly will be given the autonomy to pick his coaching staff and one name has already emerged as a possibility.
Ham’s former teammate Rasheed Wallace has been identified as a potential member of Ham’s staff. Wallace does have some experience as an assistant, serving in the position with the Detroit Pistons during the 2013-14 season, and with the University of Memphis under Penny Hardaway last year.
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