Boston Celtics v Miami Heat - Game Two

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As most professional sports teams have an overwhelming majority of Black players yet few faces of color in higher seats, the NBA is fighting back against that stigma.

For the first time, the NBA’s head coach group comprises 15 Black men out of the 30 teams. In addition, the 2021-22 season was groundbreaking in that 8 Black coaches were hired in the past 12 months. Now, one of them is proving why representation is so important in all positions across the league.

That praise goes to Ime Udoka, who took over the Boston Celtics during the 2021 offseason when former head coach Brad Stevens took over as president of basketball operations. In just his first year, Udoka has taken his “built not bought” team to the NBA Finals as they look to take on the Golden State Warriors. Ironically, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr also went to the finals his first year on the job back in 2014.

His very own players aren’t surprised that he got the opportunity to be a head coach but are shocked at how long it took– namely Jaylen Brown, who’s also breaking barriers as he recently became one of the first athletes to sign to Kanye West’s Donda Sports. 

“I don’t understand what took so long, to be honest. I think that, of course, now it’s a great thing to see, and you see a lot of coaches that are getting an opportunity to flourish in these moments. Ime is a product of that. First-year head coach in the Finals — I don’t know how many times that’s been done before,” Brown said.

25-year-old Brown also recognizes that Black coaches finally getting their well-deserved shot to lead teams is a microcosm of what should be happening across the country.
“Opportunity is important. There’s things that systemically go on that keep people out of positions that may go unnoticed, like opportunities, etc. But those make the biggest differences in the world — not being able to go to school, not being able to get in school, not being able to get jobs, not being able to get houses, not being able to do things that you should have the right to do, obviously is important, he added.“Of course, this is the NBA, and we’re talking about that. But I think that can be related to a grand scheme of things that kind of goes on in America,” he added.

The 2022 NBA Coach of the Year is Black head coach Monty Williams of the Phoenix Suns, the Los Angeles Lakers recently announced the hiring of Darvin Ham as their next head coach, and Mike Brown has signed on as the Sacramento King‘s next frontman.

Other Black coaches around the league include Detroit Pistons’ Dwane Casey, Cleveland Cavaliers’  J.B. Bickerstaff, Philadelphia 76ers’  Doc Rivers, Los Angeles Clippers’ Tyronn Lue, Houston Rockets’ Stephen Silas, and Atlanta Hawks’ Nate McMillan.