In the NBA, a league predominantly comprised of Black athletes, the topic of diversity has been a recurring one as the front offices and coaching staffs of most of its organizations are headed by people who do not look like the players.
Boston Celtics star forward Jaylen Brown, regarded as one of the more thoughtful players in the league, used his influence to take matters into his own hands, requesting that the Celtics hire a Black candidate for their head coaching position, which was left vacant following former head coach Brad Stevens’ transition to a role in the organization’s front office.
The Celtics ultimately took heed to Brown’s suggestion, hiring Ime Udoka, whom the two-way swingman spoke highly of during an interview with The Undefeated. “They were on board with it,” Brown acknowledged. “They talked about it. It wasn’t like it was just about being African-American. Udoka is more than qualified.”
Udoka is a former NBA player and one of the more respected and praised coaches among players within the league. After ending his playing career, he made his way up the NBA coaching ranks, beginning his journey as a member of the San Antonio Spurs coaching staff for seven seasons before stints with the Philadelphia 76ers and the Brooklyn Nets.
The Celtics’ hire of Udoka signals a gradual progression in NBA teams not only considering, but actually hiring Black head coaches as he will be one of 13 in the NBA at the beginning of the 2021–2022 season, nearly double the number of Black coaches who sat on an NBA bench during last season.