Seventy-five percent of NBA players are Black. Yet there are only eight Black coaches in the league. Why is that?
Well, a new Bleacher Report feature seeks to answer that question, examining the sudden, disappearance of Black coaches in the NBA.
From 2001 to 2014, the league averaged 11 Black head coaches per season. To start the 2012-13 season, half of the NBA's 30 head coaches were people of color, marking an all-time high. But when the annual coaching carousel was done turning this past summer, there were only seven Black coaches standing in the NBA, marking a 50 percent slide from 2012 and the lowest total in 16 years, according to the Bleacher Report.
The current number of Black coaches only grew to eight when the untimely death of Flip Saunders late last month led to the Minnesota Timberwolves naming Sam Mitchell as their interim head coach.
"That's not enough," Paul Silas, a former NBA player and coach, told Bleacher Report about only eight Black coaches currently in the league. "There are more guys that understand how to coach basketball. And they should have a chance."
Added New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry: "I think it bears watching, to see what happens. Five years from now, where are we going to be, from a numbers standpoint?"
Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey trusts the number will go up. At least he hopes that will be the case.
"If anything, I trust that the league is fair. So I trust that this is probably going to be a blip on the radar, and you'll see that number go back up again, hopefully in the next couple years."
The feature points out that there were only five Black coaches per season from 1990 to 2000 and that average more than doubled over the next 13 years before this year's drop to eight.
One Black coach, who has been working in the league for more than 20 years and chose to speak under anonymity, says Black coaches don't receive the same support as seen by their white counterparts.
"I think that it is a big deal," he said. "I think the message that it sends is that maybe black coaches aren't as competent or as able to do a good job as other kinds of coaches."
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(Photos from Left: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images, Christian Petersen/Getty Images, Harry How/Getty Images)
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