View Full Version : Harsh. True?

02-14-2004, 10:08 AM
Posted on Tue, Feb. 10, 2004

Players fail to give best to black coaches

By Stephen A. Smith
Inquirer Columnist

The truth hurts, especially when the sting is personal. It's never fun to paint a group with a broad brush, to attach deplorable behavior to the backs of many with whom one may share a cultural identity.

But how many African American coaches must have their abilities lambasted, their careers placed in peril, before someone starts noticing the primary cause for their travails? It's the black athlete.

It's those same athletes, paid millions to play ball, who march like soldiers in boot camp to the tune of those blessed with wealth, stability, power and, almost always, a different hue.

Yet that same black athlete, who starts out complacent, leans towards indifference before regressing to defiance the moment another black man has been assigned as his orchestrator.

If America were to be blindfolded without the luxury of a voice detector, a laundry list of professional black coaches would jump to attention just to confirm such an assertion.

"We'd tell you that players want to exploit us, to use that relationship to their advantage," one team official told me recently. "We'd tell you that the main reason players want us in those positions is so they can get away without being held accountable, sometimes.

"We'd tell you it would be OK if they held all coaches to the same standard, but that it's a struggle because they wouldn't try that with white coaches. They know those white coaches usually have more money, more power, at least the perception of both.

"But we'd tell you that only if we were open and honest, which is something we can never be on this subject."

Who needs candor when you have Randy Ayers?

Nausea should take over the next time we hear Ayers pull an Andy Reid - "We'll handle it... . We're keeping it in-house" - or the next time he responds to one of Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson's missing-in-action moments.

It's sickening to see Ayers sit around and absorb Robinson's theatrical belligerence and insubordination while making sure to cash the $22.8 million due him through the 2004-05 season.

Then again, what is Ayers to do, especially when his three-year, $4.5 million deal gets dwarfed by the players' $4.8 million average salary? When they know it - because they are smart enough to recognize such a small salary usually amounts to a small investment - they're in an ideal position to circumvent the coach's authority and exploit it at their discretion.

This is a problem that has existed in sports forever, and the effect is like that of a virus in flu season. Here's the ultimate surprise:

It is not the fault of the white man.

Not on this issue.

"It goes on," former Miami Heat player Tim Hardaway told me a few years ago. "It really does, and it's wrong. There are so many black players in this league that would hop at attention the second a white coach calls them but act like they don't even care around black coaches. Then we sit around wondering why more black coaches can't keep their jobs."

Actually, there's no reason to wonder.

Excluding the status of Denver Nuggets coach Jeff Bzdelik - the lowest-paid coach in the NBA - most white coaches get paid more. Most are blessed with more influence and power than their black counterparts. And, whether it's real or not, that perception is usually enough to keep athletes alert and on point, subconsciously reminding them of their responsibilities without the coaches' uttering a word.

That's why Jeff Van Gundy can take $5 million per year and not worry about controlling basketball operations, why Phil Jackson can get more than $6 million under similar circumstances, why Larry Brown has always commanded huge dollars and why every coach is looking to do the same.

Huge salaries do not merely mean security. They equate to a player knowing his coach isn't going anywhere, recognizing he'll need to conform and show a willingness to do so mainly for his own survival and future wealth.

We can't count Allen Iverson or even Derrick Coleman among this group because, say what you want about them, they are consistent. It's others - they know who they are - who leave us all scratching our heads with disgust and resignation.

Too bad Ayers, Mo Cheeks and so many other African American coaches don't have the cushion of huge salaries or influence, particularly considering the mentality of so many of today's players.

The players pontificate about why more of their own are not in positions of power but neglect to look in the mirror.

02-14-2004, 11:31 AM
That is horse crap

02-14-2004, 01:16 PM
I find it interesting that Mavskiki, of all people, would buy into this article.

02-14-2004, 01:52 PM
To whom it may concern:

I love ReDirkulous.

02-14-2004, 01:59 PM
no message

02-14-2004, 02:24 PM
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, everyone should feel free to discuss THIS ARTICLE if they choose.

02-14-2004, 02:57 PM
Why were my posts edited?

I sent a private message to you KG and have gotten no response.

I said nothing offensive.

02-14-2004, 03:28 PM
I agree with Jamosonite. Stephan A. Smith is a hardcore sixer fan, and his team is going straight down the poopshoot. Hes got nothing else to say.

02-14-2004, 03:29 PM
Re-Dirk, I don't live on the board. I sent you a response.

02-14-2004, 03:36 PM
What did I say that required you to edit my post? And why didn't you notify me as to why you would edit it?

02-14-2004, 03:40 PM
You asked me the same question via PM, and I answered it.

02-14-2004, 03:42 PM
You said that I implied that KG was a racist. I did no such thing. That is yopur interpretation. I never said anything resembling that remark... why would you assume something like that? That is such a bizarre interpretation.

02-14-2004, 03:44 PM
ReDirk, why is it that you're trying to have a conversation with me simultaneously via PM and in this thread?

02-14-2004, 03:48 PM
Because you are tlaking to me in both places...

I said nothing offensive. You claim that I am implying something derogatory towards Mavskiki... that is entirely your interpretation...why would you assume something so bizarre? There is nothing to support that interpretation.

All I said was: "It is so appropriate that Mavskiki would buy into this article."

How on earth does that translate into me calling Mavskiki a racist?

02-14-2004, 05:43 PM
This is a very delicate topic and we should be careful discussing it. But I do see quotes from players like Tim Hardaway who feel the same way and thus there probably is some reason to believe that this could actually be true.

But we have seen this season that even white coaches have struggled to keep their jobs. I am not really sure how to relate that but it all boils down to each person I think.

sturm und drang
02-14-2004, 05:49 PM
Personally, I don't find the article at all racist.

It's a sad, sad day if we've gotten to the point where we can't discuss any racial issues - no matter how legitimate or intelligent the conversation is.

02-14-2004, 06:21 PM
Originally posted by: sturm und drang
Personally, I don't find the article at all racist.

It's a sad, sad day if we've gotten to the point where we can't discuss any racial issues - no matter how legitimate or intelligent the conversation is.

Agreed. The interesting thing in this is that the people (related to the NBA) who are stating this are all black. When it comes from that angle, I tend to give it more credence.

02-14-2004, 09:51 PM
I don't think that the artile is really racist. I personally don't care for Stephen Smith, but I think he has some legitimate points. If the Blazers signed Mo Cheeks to a big contract, don't you think that might send a message to the players that he was someone to listen too. Also is is a good point that racism is not just from white america. In this case black atheletes are holding back black coaches because of their lack of respect. It's said to think that this would still be happening today, but not entirely surprising.

02-14-2004, 11:37 PM
Even though it is Stephen A Smith I think he may be on to something. After seeing the way the players treated Quinn Buckner when he was here, I have always held a similar theory.

02-16-2004, 02:57 PM
Stephen A. Smith is just a sensationalist. His approach to journalism is like hunting lizards with buckshot and again he missed the point. The best coaches coach the best teams and the best coaches right now are white. Nate McMillan is a great coach but he is playing for an average team. Paul Silas is an excellent coach but he's coaching- the Cavaliers. The fact is that regardless of the race of the coach, the sixers are in free fall after losing Larry Brown who was, regardless of race, a great coach.

Ayers is a coach that is straddling three positions: being an ex-assistant coach, being black and being an interim coach. Is it because he is black that he doesnt get any respect? Or is it because he is an interim coach and interim coaches get about as much respect as substitute teachers?

02-16-2004, 06:55 PM
Agree with TheBaron here, the article is just sensationalist, nothing more.

It's true that new head coaches, BLACK and WHITE, face greater obstacles b/c they're a) unproven, b) low-paid, c) on a short leash.

The thing Stephen A. Smith neglects to mention is that both Phil Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy started out as low-paid head coaches themselves (not sure about Larry Brown, he came from the college ranks with a good rep). In a few years, we might mention Eddie Jordan (he's been unlucky with injuries with the Wizards), Nate McMillan, Terry Porter, and Mo Cheeks among them.

The Magic played hard for first-time, low-paid black head coach Doc Rivers in his first year. In addition, Jordan, McMillan, and Porter get their teams to play hard--Cheeks does, too, it was just hard to tell with characters like Sheed and Bonzi on the team.

Not all coaches are created equal.

02-16-2004, 06:59 PM
Stephen Smith is to journalism what Al Sharpton is to politics.

02-16-2004, 07:20 PM
Originally posted by: Jamisonite
That is horse crap


02-17-2004, 12:25 AM
The Baron: I don't see how you can just assume that all of the best coaches are white. It may be that there are obstacles in the way of some very good black coaches. I don't see how you guys can just totally blow off this theory as horsecrap.
Because most black coaches are new it means that on average they will get lower pay, which of course commands less respect. Why is it difficult to believe that thier race adds one more hurdle in thier path?

02-17-2004, 12:56 AM
Im not assuming anything Freshjive.

Larry Brown
Rick Carlisle
Phil Jackson
Rick Adelman
Don Nelson. (should I have listed him?)
are all coaches of the elite teams.

and Jerry Sloan is overacheiving.

I dont think you have to even discuss race when classifying those coaches as elite. Their careers speak for themselves. As far as player respect is concerned, where does Stephen Smith even find a standard for justifying that players respect Nate McMillan less than Larry Brown? Im open to the idea that race may play a roll in any aspect of life in the US, but I havent seen any evidence that basketball, a sport that is more than any other sport dominated by players of black and white heritage, has problems with race. I have seen that players respond to real, proven leaders like Avery Johnson and Larry Brown. Thomas was given a lot of opportunity to succeed because he is a player that knows the game. It just so happened that he sucked and the East has identity issues and attention deficit dissorder.

02-17-2004, 01:16 AM
Well, listing the coaches who are currently succesful doesn't prove/disprove anything. My point was mabye something held other great coaches back. I also didn't mean to stretch this into a blanket societal issue.

Good points about AJ though, and I agree Thomas fails because he sucks (and is quite possibly a racist himself).

02-17-2004, 05:07 AM
Once more black coaches win championships, more black coaches will win respect.

K.C. Jones, Lenny Wilkens and Al Attles are the only coaches that I know of, who have won a championship in the NBA(ABA?); and happen to be black. If anyone knows of any others(ABA also), please post.
The last of which was 1986, which is pretty much ancient history in basketball years.