Saturday, April 17, 2021


Evaluating the NBA’s current Black head coach/general manager duos.

March 5, 2021 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Sports, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) We are at about the halfway point of the 72 game 2020-21 NBA season. Like most sports since March 2020, the NBA has had to adjust to the coronavirus pandemic. The protocols, testing, and the relative lack of fans at NBA arenas are some of the differences between this season and previous NBA seasons. Of course, the league had to restart and complete its 2019-20 NBA season in the “Orlando bubble” due to the pandemic. Despite the unique situation, there has been quality basketball this season as you would expect from some of the greatest athletes in the world. This season, nearly a quarter of NBA teams are led by Black head coaches and a nearly a third of NBA teams have Black men in the executive position of “general manager”. For an NBA owner, those two positions, head coach and general manager, are arguably the two most important non-playing positions of an NBA organization. Interestingly, there are five NBA teams who have both a Black head coach and Black general manager, which is important for a professional sports league that has previously gotten quality grades on the issue of racial hiring. Here’s a look at each of those five duos in alphabetical order by team:

-Cleveland Cavaliers: Head coach: J.B. Bickerstaff, General Manager: Koby Altman

Cleveland has a young GM/head coach duo to match the youth of their roster. Neither Bickerstaff or Altman are even 42 years old, which is young in either position. The Cavaliers are clearly rebuilding around their youthful former first round picks, Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, and Isaac Okoro but should be proud to not be in last place in the Eastern Conference considering one of their few decorated veterans, Kevin Love, has missed most of the season.

J.B. Bickerstaff --- Koby Altman

-Detroit Pistons: Head coach: Dwane Casey, General Manager: Troy Weaver

The Detroit Pistons find themselves near the bottom of the NBA record-wise despite having a veteran head coach and former NBA Coach of the Year in Dwane Casey. This is Casey’s third year in Detroit and Troy Weaver’s first year ever as a general manager. Weaver had the rare opportunity to acquire three first rounders during the 2020 NBA Draft and have retooled much of their roster. This team is nowhere close to the Toronto Raptors playoff teams that Casey coached before being fired.

-Houston Rockets: Head coach: Stephen Silas, General Manager: Rafael Stone

Normally, it’s a blessing to have a superstar and former NBA MVP on your team. But that was not the case for Rockets head coach Stephen Silas and Rockets General Manager Rafael Stone as James Harden’s unhappiness with the Rockets organization was the main storyline during the Rockets’ 2020-21 season until he was traded in a blockbuster deal. Harden’s unhappiness was less about the credibility of Silas and Stone and more an acknowledgment that the team lacked a legitimate star to pair with Harden. Both men had to take over from the successful D’Antoni/Morey duo and are now able to forge their own identity sans Harden and many remnants from his tenure.

-Philadelphia 76ers: Head coach: Doc Rivers, General Manager: Elton Brand

Although former Houston Rockets general Manager Daryl Morey is the top executive for the 76ers, Elton Brand is still the general manager of the team. Doc Rivers is among the most respected head coaches in the NBA and that is one of the reasons why the 76ers brought him to coach the star combination of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. The number for both Rivers and Brand is 1999. Rivers began his NBA head coaching career in 1999, the same year Brand entered the NBA as a player. This version of the 76ers looks like a legitimate NBA Finals contender thus far.

-Phoenix Suns: Head coach: Monty Williams, General Manager: James Jones

This season, the Phoenix Suns look like a certainty to make the NBA playoffs for the first time in a long time. Most of the credit will go to future Hall of Famer Chris Paul for the team’s turnaround even though the Suns played extremely well in the Orlando bubble to end last season. James Jones’ acquisition of Paul, who has both leadership and a strong personality, was due the relationship between Paul and Williams when both were in the early periods of their respective careers as an NBA player and head coach several years ago in New Orleans.

Staff Writer; Mark Hines


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