Atlanta Hawks coach Nate McMillan looked at the discrepancies with the lack of black head coaches in the NFL and reached one conclusion.
“This is not a sports issue,” McMillan said before Sunday’s 103-94 loss to the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. “It’s a society issue that the opportunities sometimes certain people, they don’t get the opportunities because of the color of their skin.
“With the NBA, we seem to have given those opportunities to some black coaches and they’ve had some success doing it.”
Counting McMillan, there are 14 blacks who are head coaches in the NBA. The others are Jason Kidd (Dallas), Monty Williams (Phoenix), Doc Rivers (Philadelphia), Chauncey Billups (Portland), Dwane Casey (Detroit), Alvin Gentry (Sacramento), Stephen Silas (Houston), Jamahl Mosley (Orlando), Tyronn Lue (Los Angeles Clippers), J. B. Bickerstaff (Cleveland), Ime Udoka (Boston), Wes Unseld Jr. (Washington) and Willie Green (New Orleans).
The only other time the NBA had this many black head coaches was during the 2012-13 season when it also had 14.
Currently, Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers is the only black head coach in the NFL. And that league came under fire this past week when former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores sued the NFL, New York Giants, Denver Broncos and Dolphins, alleging discrimination with the hiring process regarding the Giants and Broncos and questioning his recent firing by the Dolphins after he strung together back-to-back winning seasons.
McMillan said he’s been watching what’s going on with the NFL and its lack of black head coaches, and added: “It was surprising to hear that Mike Tomlin is the only coach that’s in the NFL that’s black. He’s done a great job.
“Pittsburgh is my team, so I follow those guys closely.”
McMillan also is closely watching the job turned in by Williams, whose Suns have the best record in the NBA at 42-10 a year after they reached the NBA Finals. Williams was an assistant coach on McMillan’s staff from 2005-10 when McMillan led the Portland Trail Blazers.
“I just look at one of my guys that I had a chance to work with and what Monty Williams is doing as a young black coach stepping in and really changing the culture there in Phoenix,” McMillan said. “Doc Rivers has done it for a while.
“We really have a lot of guys and there’s still a lot more that are very capable of the opportunity when you present it and you give them a fair chance — a fair shot — as far as not just the opportunity to coach, but the players to give them a chance to win games.”
Last summer there were eight head coaching openings in the NBA. Seven of them were filled by blacks, including Kidd, McMillan, Billups, Mosley, Unseld, Green and Udoka.
The NFL has had nine head coaching vacancies since the regular season ended.
“I understand where you take the hit for that rebuild,” McMillan said. “And sometimes when you get that team in position to move forward, the staff sometimes can get switched in situations like that.
“I hope that things change and guys will get a fair opportunity to do some things that I know they can do well at.”
McMillan also gave credit to Mavs’ owner Mark Cuban. Along with Kidd, the other top three people in the Mavs’ organization are black: Cynt Marshall (Chief Executive Officer), Nico Harrison (General Manager and President of Basketball Operations) and Michael Finley (Assistant General Manger and Assistant Vice-President of Basketball Operations).
Marshall, in fact, is the first black female CEO in NBA history.
“When Jason played here, Jason was a Hall of Fame player,” McMillan said. “He represents well. He’s a great coach.
“And I think that’s just what Mark has done is really open his mind to interviewing people and giving them an opportunity where they have the skills to fit into those positions. They’ve done well and I think that’s great.”
DONCIC TALK OF NBA: That 33-point, 13-rebound, 15-assist game Luka Doncic tagged the Philadelphia 76ers with Friday is still a topic of conversation around the NBA.
After all, Doncic has eight 30-point, 10-rebound, 15-assist games since he entered the NBA in 2018. During that same time frame, every other player who has donned an NBA uniform has combined for a total of just nine 30-point, 10-rebound, 15-assist game.
When asked if he’s surprised by that, coach Jason Kidd said of Doncic: “He’s good. He is everything everyone talks about, he wants to win (and) he’s not afraid of the stage.
“He’s involved in plays offensively and defensively. So, when you look at his stat line — when you look at that type of stat line — that means he’s definitely involved in the game and he’s trying to do everything to help his team win.”
And that includes dunking the ball, of which Doncic had two in the third quarter against the Sixers after having only one dunk during the entire season entering that game.
“I think you can see he’s playing at a very high level both offensively and defensively, and he’s making all the right plays for us,” Kidd said. “When he’s dunking, I think he’s letting everyone know that he feels great, but it was good to see.
“You can see he’s moving a lot better. Again, he’s making all the great reads, we’re getting great looks offensively — make or miss. And defensively he’s taking the challenge and he’s rebounding the ball for us, which we need.”
DONCIC/YOUNG CONNECTION: Luka Doncic and Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young will forever be joined at the hip, since they were traded for each other on the day of the 2018 NBA Draft.
Doncic was drafted No. 3 overall by the Hawks and Young was drafted No. 5 overall by the Mavs. The Mavs then sent the draft rights to Young and a first-round pick to the Hawks for Doncic.
“That was a long time ago,” coach Jason Kidd said. “I don’t even know if they remember the draft night.”
While Doncic has led the Mavs to the first-round of the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, Young guided the Hawks to last year’s Eastern Conference Finals where they lost to the eventual NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks in six games.
“They had a great run and they’re trying to get back there,” Kidd said of the Hawks. “And Luka is trying to do the same thing in the Western Conference — get his team there to try and win that gold trophy.
“Trae’s the head of the snake. He’s playing at an All-Star level.”
During the Mavs’ 103-94 win over the Hawks on Sunday, Doncic collected 18 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, and Young finished with 17 points, two rebounds and 11 assists.
BRIEFLY: Coach Jason Kidd said there’s no art to when to use a zone defense and how long does a team stay in the zone defense. Whatever the case, the Mavs effectively used a zone against Philadelphia on Friday and held the Sixers to 35 second-half points after the Sixers racked up 63 points in the first half. “I thought it was more of our energy and effort,” Kidd said. “We picked up defensively when we were in it. To start the third (quarter) we had deflections — that got our offense going. I thought the energy and the effort, it wasn’t perfect, so I thought the guys were covering up for each other. I thought that kind of got our energy and our engine going on both side of the ball.”. .Kristaps Porzingis (right knee bone bruise, Maxi Kleber (left knee effusion), Sterling Brown (left foot soreness) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (left foot surgery) all missed Sunday’s game.
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