The plight of Black coaches


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Toronto Raptors assistant coach Adrian Griffin, 46, has been patient, but he craves an opportunity to be an NBA head coach.

In the last 10 years, the former defensive-minded wing has interviewed with Philadelphia, Utah, Houston, Memphis, Orlando, Cleveland and Denver when they’ve had head-coaching openings.

In a 15-year span, Houston Rockets assistant Elston Turner, 60, has interviewed with Sacramento, Phoenix, Chicago, Portland, Philadelphia and Charlotte.

Minnesota Timberwolves associate head coach David Vanterpool, 47, interviewed with Orlando, Phoenix, Cleveland, Minnesota, Denver and Charlotte over a span of seven years. He’s scheduled to interview with Indiana soon.

Dallas Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas, 47, is going on his 20th year on the bench. In that time, he’s interviewed with Charlotte, Houston, Atlanta and Chicago recently. He’s been close a couple times, but organizations ultimately passed on him. 

Patrick Ewing, Jerry Stackhouse and Juwan Howard, former NBA assistants who were highly regarded, opted to go the college route to help accelerate their pursuit of an NBA head-coaching job.

Toronto Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin is waiting for his chance to be a head coach. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)

This is just a glimpse into some of the lengths many Black coaches go through only to be bypassed by retread hires or coaches with less experience. And the list goes well beyond the coaches listed here. 

“It’s hard to know what else I need to put on my resumé,” a Black longtime assistant coach told Yahoo Sports. 

There are currently coaching vacancies in Philadelphia, New Orleans, Indiana and Chicago. 

Houston could potentially join the mix with many premium Black head-coaching candidates available: Tyronn Lue, Jason Kidd, Wes Unseld Jr., Chauncey Billups, Jamahl Mosley, Mark Jackson, David Fizdale, Ime Udoka, Sam Cassell, Nate McMillan, Jarron Collins, Jacque Vaughn, Darvin Ham, Phil Handy, Maurice Cheeks and Mike Brown. 

Inside the bubble, the NBA has “Black Lives Matter” on courts, T-Shirts and throughout sections of the arena. There have been PSAs produced by teams pushing the message that they need to do a better job pursuing racial equality. A few executives have kneeled with players during the national anthem. 

The gestures are commendable and appreciated, but now it’s time for teams to exercise their power.

Black coaches matter in this Black-dominated league. 

Making food matter

Alexia Grant, known as “Chef Lex,” was one of three Black food vendors selected to provide meals to players, coaches, league staff and media members in the bubble, and sadly her final day was Thursday. 

Chef Lex also is the personal chef for Portland Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony

Her pop-up, “Comfort Kitchen,” has been a bubble staple for Southern-style breakfast and brunch, and she was the only vendor renting a location inside of the bubble, which meant her food was always delivered hot and fresh.

I ordered her French toast every morning.

But because teams were eliminated, business wasn’t what it was, so she moved on. But she made her mark and established a new set of fans and clientele with this once-in-a-lifetime experience. This is an exact example of why players placed an emphasis on supporting Black-owned businesses in the bubble. 

Seana’s is another Black-owned restaurant that was approved by the league to deliver food to the bubble. Joshua Johnson runs a Caribbean soul-food establishment based in Orlando. I tend to order the BBQ ribs, potato salad, mac ’n’ cheese, greens and yams. 

The restaurant is definitely worth a visit when in town.

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