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(060508 Boston, MA) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar gestures in front of the trophy before Game 1 of the NBA finals basketball series between the Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers at the TD Banknorth GardenThursday, June 5, 2008. Staff Photo by Matt Stone

Source: MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images / Getty

The recent lawsuit charging the National Football League with a deliberate lack of coaching diversity has set off a flurry of conversation. One of the leading voices for change in sports, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, added his opinion in an interview on CNN.

Appearing on Anderson Cooper 360 on Thursday (February 3rd), the iconic athlete, activist and author addressed the recent lawsuit brought by former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores accusing the NFL of a pattern of systemic racism against Black coaches. The class-action lawsuit, which is also against the Dolphins as well as the Denver Broncos and the New York Giants, also alleges that Flores was coerced to lose games by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross who offered a financial incentive of $100,000 for each loss. Cooper led off the interview referencing Abdul-Jabbar’s latest column on his Substack newsletter about the lawsuit and asked, “What do you think is behind the lack of Black people in management and head coaching positions in the NFL?”

“I think that it has a lot to do with familiarity, and having it go on the way it has gone on because it has made the NFL a lot of money,” Abdul-Jabbar answered. Cooper then pointed out that there isn’t a lack of people who could fill head coaching and management roles in the league. To that, the former Los Angeles Laker center replied: “Almost 60 percent of the NFL players are Black or some other person of color. The fact that there are so many that have stood on the sidelines…Eric Bienemy and Tony Dungy are two examples of guiding teams to a Super Bowl and winning. So, who is the culprit? Where does the guilt lie?” He went on to say, “The NBA has tried it and it has been very successful for them. Coaching, assistant coaching, people working in the financial aspects of the team, women refs…all these are considered controversial. The NBA continues to thrive and attract a bigger and bigger audience.”

Watch the entire conversation between the NBA legend and Anderson Cooper below.