It was no secret that this offseason for the Oklahoma City Thunder would be busy, full of movement and uncertainty. We also didn’t know that those things would be what pushes former head coach Billy Donovan away after five seasons with the Thunder.
“We have the utmost respect for him. The things he did here will be remembered for a very long time. He really helped the legacy of the organization.”
Let’s not try to dissect Billy’s departure from Oklahoma City. That’s now in the past, it’s time to look towards the future, and the future of coaching in Oklahoma City is Black. You didn’t read that incorrectly. The future of coaching in Oklahoma City is Black, and by Black, I mean Sam Presti needs to consciously take a hard look at the plethora of Black coaches that are available for hire.
Here’s a list of some of the top Black candidates for a head coaching position: Ty Lue, Ime Udoke, Sam Cassell, Jacque Vaughn, Adrian Griffin, Mark Jackson, Stephen Silas, Darvin Ham, Jahmal Mosley, Jason Kidd, Wes Unseld Jr., David Vanterpool, Roy Rogers, Nate McMillan, Alvin Gentry, Mike Brown, and more.
The Thunder have a former head coach in Maurice Cheeks as their head assistant, which would be the most natural hire if Presti wanted to do so internally.
The time is now if you’re Sam Presti, especially if an actual rebuild is imminent. The Thunder are full of young, budding talent, and every one of those young, budding stars and supporting cast are Black. It would be beneficial to their development to have a head coach who’s Black guiding them through their developmental stages of life while being growing as a Black professional athlete.
The current racial climate in America also plays a role in all of this. With systematic racism, and police brutality targeting the Black community, and a lack of leadership coming from our government, white executives (like Presti) need to take a purposeful look into these African-American coaching candidates that have more than proven their worth in the NBA.
Let’s not try to dissect Billy’s departure from Oklahoma City. That’s now in the past, it’s time to look towards the future, and the future of coaching in Oklahoma City is Black.
Ty Lue has three titles as a player, one title as a coach, and nine years of coaching experience. Sam Cassell also has three championships as a player and 11 years of assistant coaching experience. Jason Kidd was a 10-time NBA all-star, won a title with the Dallas Mavericks, has seven years of coaching experience, and six years of experience as a head coach. Nate McMillan has 21 years of coaching experience, 16 years of head coaching experience, and a long history with the franchise that moved to OKC, playing 12 NBA seasons with the Seattle SuperSonics. Alvin Gentry has been coaching since 1980, has 31 years of NBA coaching experience and 14 years of head coaching experience. Lastly, Mike Brown has been coaching in the NBA since 1997, has seven years of head coaching experience, won the 2009 NBA Coach of the Year award, and won three titles as an assistant coach.
These aren’t all the coaches that are qualified for OKC’s head coaching position, and some of these coaches wouldn’t be an ideal choice for OKC based on their resume. However, the point is, there are a ton of options for Presti to hire a Black coach, and they all should be considered. I’m not talking about the old, tired, “we’ll give every candidate a look,” type of consideration either because we all know that hasn’t been the case in sports. I’m talking about a conscious, asserted effort to hire a Black coach, just like sports have made a conscious, asserted effort to hire underqualified white head coaches in the past.
Let’s be real. Although Oklahoma was nearly a black state, Oklahoma City isn’t known for its diversity. It’s definitely not known for diversity when it comes to high-level leadership positions. The opportunity is at Sam Presti’s front door to send a message and pioneer change in the city and better yet, the state. It’s the perfect time for an African-American head coach in Oklahoma City, and if not, it’s the perfect time to make history by hiring the first female coach in NBA history, Becky Hammon.