Top sports TV personality Stephen A. Smith momentarily walked off the set during Wednesday’s taping of the “First Take” TV show after expressing outrage over the lack of Black coaches in the NBA.
Smith had been covering the news of former Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens being tapped to become the president of basketball operations at the Celtics.
Smith was making a larger point about the lack of diversity among head coaches and in the front office in the NBA, according to the Bleacher Report.
Smith called out NBA players for not being more vocal about the need for Black coaches. “I want to call out the NBA players,” he said. “You have something to say about everything else. Where you at?”
Smith noted that there have been many African Americans “toiling through the terrain and trying to become executives in the National Basketball Association” who are passed over for often less-qualified white candidates.
Smith went on to mention Black America’s overall and continuing fight for equality, referencing the police killing of George Floyd. “We’re supposed to be awake. And we understand the knee on (George) Floyd’s neck wasn’t just about police brutality but the figurative semblance it provided where you’re feeling like constantly people have their knees on our neck since the time you come out of the womb.”
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Many on Twitter agreed with Smith.
“He’s not wrong. Players are only woke for their own benefit. They don’t really care unless it affects their pockets,” tweeted Freeway @BigGameJimmy.
Emmanuel Collado @EmmanuelC_32 tweetd, “Totally agree with Stephen on this one! Are you telling there isn’t a Harvard or Princeton or UCLA EDUCATED BROTHER OUT THERE, more qualified than Brad Stevens to take the job from Danny Ainge?”
There has long been a call for more Black coaches in the pro basketball league. In 2020, there were just four Black head coaches, according to the Bleacher Report.
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Black coaches in the NBA are often relegated to the assistant coach position. Out of the 19 assistant coaches with head coaching experience in the NBA, 12 are Black, Fansided reported.
The number of Black head coaches hasn’t increased much despite the NBA announcing in 2020 a diversity effort to increase the number of Black people in coaching and head office posts, Forbes reported.