With the Lakers’s hiring of Darvin Ham now official as of Friday, 15 of the NBA’s 30 teams will have a Black head coach for the first time in league history.
Ham, 48, will take up the mantle as the 28th Lakers coach nearly 10 years after his brief stint with the club as an assistant. Prior to Friday’s announcement of the former player’s hiring, NBA commissioner Adam Silver addressed the NBA’s increase in Black coaches during a Thursday news conference prior to Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Finals.
“This isn’t unique to the NBA — and I’ve learned this from other businesses — is that you have to talk about these issues all the time,” Silver said, per Andscape. “If you care about diversity and inclusion in your workplace, you’ve got to look at the data. 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.”
After praising the league’s improving metrics, Silver discussed his hope for a day when the color of a person’s skin is no longer “newsworthy” when they are hired to a prominent role.
“At the same time, while I’m particularly proud of those numbers and roughly 50% 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 naive 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.”
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Fifty-six years after then-Celtics center Bill Russell made history by becoming the NBA’s first black coach, Ham will now join an exclusive club along with 14 other active coaches. Like Ham, seven of those coaches are also former players; most recently, Suns coach Monty Williams, a nine-year NBA vet, earned his first NBA Coach of the Year Award, over eight years into his heading coaching career.
Celtics coach Ime Udoka, who played 12 seasons and is in his first season as a head coach, currently has Boston up 1–0 over Golden State following a stunning road win. Udoka, 44, guided the club to its first Finals appearance in 12 years nearly a year after he assumed the job.
Should the Celtics maintain a series lead past Sunday’s Game 2, Udoka could eventually become the first Black head coach to win an NBA title since current Clippers coach Tyronn Lue won it with Cleveland in the 2015–16 season.
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