When a coach gets fired, it usually has to do with wins and losses. For African-American coaches, those wins and losses better come quickly and in bunches.
African-American coaches generally arent given the time to build a team, choose their players or impress a winning culture. There are just six Black coaches out of the NBA’s 30 teams and in the cases of Earl Watson, David Fizdale and recently fired Milwaukee Bucks coach Jason Kidd, false expectations, misplaced blame and the disrespect that African-American coaches endure can be found in each dismissal. Sometimes that disrespect emanates even from the most distinguished Black players.
Why was Jason Kidd fired? According to reports, he was underachieving and had damaged relationships within the organization. Really?
Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
Bucks made move on Kidd based upon dropping into the 8th seed in the East, frayed relationships in organization and general non-alignment, league sources tell ESPN. Bucks job will be most sought after of offseason, largely because of @Giannis_An34.
Kidd has taken Milwaukee to the playoffs twice. The Bucks have some pieces but aren’t the most talent-laden squad in the world. As great a player as Giannis is becoming, Kidd has been missing Jabari Parker and other key pieces needed to be serious contenders. A record of 23-22 and a current eighth place playoff spot isnt too bad.
David Aldridge on Twitter
League sources confirm that the Bucks have fired head coach Jason Kidd (@wojespn first). Source says ownership felt Milwaukee was “underachieving” this year; Bucks are currently in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
What is the end game in Milwaukee ?
General Manager Jon Horst says a fresh approach” is needed in order to continue to rise towards a championship caliber squad.
Milwaukee Bucks on Twitter
GM Jon Horst addresses the media after relieving Jason Kidd of his coaching duties: https://t.co/mn2eaMKfQe
Who are they looking for? Is the next coach going to lead them to a championship?
Some have even called Kidd, just 44 years old, old-school and lacking the innovativeness to succeed in this modern NBA. Greg Popovich and Steve Kerr are new school? What about Stan Van Gundy?
Nathaniel Friedman on Twitter
Coaching the Bucks was always going to be about understanding the New NBA and positional fluidity, Kidd was just too fundamentally old school (because his era is now old school) for that.
Speaking of Van Gundy, look at his first three seasons with the Pistons and look at Kidds Milwaukee tenure.
Kidd had a record of 139-152 with two playoff appearances and a 4-8 playoffs record.
Van Gundy has a record of 135-156 with one playoff appearance and an 0-4 record in the playoffs.
The major difference between the two is that Van Gundy has full control as head coach and President of Basketball Operations and he picks the players. Thats why Kidd wanted full control in Brooklyn, which led to his departure. Full control means full accountability. He was also seeking more front office control with the Bucks before he was fired. Any coach, who cant pick his players shouldnt be fired before the GM who puts the talent on the floor.
Its not a White Coach vs. Black Coach thing. It is about the disrespect towards the young Black coach who is not getting a real opportunity to succeed in terms of getting to the next level.
We praise Brad Stevens as this phenomenal, outstanding basketball coach, but whats his playoff record? Hes 11-17 in the postseason. His team has progressed each season and an elite upper management keeps infusing great talent into the ball club. But in four years at the helm, Stevens has the same amount of championships as Watson, Fizdale and Kidd, but commands significantly more basic respect for his coaching acumen and achievements.
Zesty Boston Celtics on Twitter
Brad Stevens, Best Coach In NBA’s Eastern Conference? ESPN Panel Says So https://t.co/fT9X1v7ZEc
They are all promising young coaches, but Stevens is lauded while the others are stained with a reputation of not being able to manage personalities or lead men. Fizdale, former assistant coach on the two-time World Champion Miami Heat teams in 2012 and 2013, had a beef this season with star player Marc Gasol that went public.
After making the playoffs in his rookie season and exhibiting the leadership, poise and IQ needed to guide the franchise, Fizdale was fired after a 7-12 start. One New York morning show, hosted by a former Jets quarterback, even suggested that Kidd’s past off the court problems influenced his firing in some way. The show suggested that no one (outside of Giannis) really likes Jason Kidd.
Watson wasnt given much to work with in Phoenix, but was at least lauded for his relationships skills. However, his reputation as a hoops technician, winner and leader was severely damaged. He was given just 118 games to rebuild a Suns franchise that has been mismanaged for years. Things haven’t improved under interim coach Jay Triano, other than the fact that Devin Booker is publicly supportive of Triano getting the job permanently. The Suns (17-30) are the 13th-ranked squad in the Wild West.
SBNation got it right when discussing Watsons dismissal:
…Watson was not provided with the tools to win, and that has many wondering why the Suns arent firing general manager Ryan McDonough. He was hired away from the Celtics in 2013. Since then, Phoenix has gone 134-197. Everyone thought McDonough arrived to help the Suns rebuild, but the team was then unexpectedly solid in 2013-14. That 48-34 campaign proved to be fools gold that disrupted whatever plan was in place. Phoenix has paid for it dearly over the past two seasons, and continues to do so today.
NBA owners are giving some brothers opportunity, but it seems that at the same time, they are assassinating the character of the young black coach.
Teams have the right to move on from coaches when they dont feel that coach is executing the job properly. However, before Kidd was fired from Bucks, the best young player in the NBA, Giannis Antetokounmpo offered to speak to management and try to save the coach’s job, which is a rare occurrence. That has got to count for something if you are serious about building a championship team on Antetokounmpo’s back.
Ramona Shelburne on Twitter
Jason Kidd tells ESPN that Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo called him about 15 minutes before Kidd was officially notified he’d been fired by the Bucks and offered to help save his job.
The Bucks organization chose to go in a different direction without asking the opinion of its franchise player who has a great relationship with the coach and has thrived under his guidance. An argument can be made that the black head coach is the most disrespected leader in the world in every sport. The media does not highlight the black head coach. They are not respected and revered as the best in the business by anybody.
When the media asked LeBron what he thinks of Tyronn Lue getting fired, James didnt come right out and strongly defend Tyronn Lue by saying Lues been with us for the last two years, we’ve been to the NBA Finals and we won a championship. We are just going through a bump right now, we’ll get it together, we have an outstanding basketball coach.
Instead, LeBron distanced himself from the situation.
I dont know whats going to happen with our team, James said after the Cavs were run out of their own building, 148-124, by the Oklahoma City Thunder. I have no idea what conversations have been going on. Me personally, Ive been trying to stay as laser-sharp as I can to keep my guys ready to go out and play. Obviously, it hasnt resulted in wins, but I gotta stay as fresh mentally as much I can with the struggles.
I cant worry about job securities and trades and things of that nature.
At the same time, he will openly praise Grep Popovich and praise Coach K up at Duke. And deservingly so, but it shows a difference in the way the young Black coach is treated.
When Kyrie left Cleveland, he took a shot at Lue and the Cavs organization who he just won a championship with and lauded a guy in Stevens who has never won anything.
Three NBA coaches have already been dumped this season – all African-American. Black coaches are getting hired, but theres no real commitment to helping them build a winning situation and their destiny is still in control of white GMs and owners, and a media that just doesn’t really respect their gangster.