Study: 2012 NBA Racial and Gender Report Card

The NBA continued its leading position in the sports industry with its commitment to and record for racial and gender hiring practices during the 2011-2012 NBA season. The Report Card was released by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida.

The NBA received an A+ for racial hiring practices, an A- for gender hiring practices, and an A for an overall grade. The NBA achieved the highest grade for racial hiring practices and overall combined grade in the history of men’s professional sport with scores of 96.8 percent and 92.9 percent respectively.

Richard Lapchick, the director of TIDES and primary author of the report, said, “The standard for racial and gender diversity is led by Commissioner David Stern. He has continually been at the forefront of the issue and has led the charge for the NBA’s progress in racial and gender equality, which featured an historic set of accomplishments in 2012.”

In the NBA league office, 34 percent of all professional employees are people of color and 42 percent are women. The League Office also had 39 women serving as vice presidents in the 2011-2012 season.

“The evidence for the NBA’s continued commitment to gender and racial equality is seen in the strong grades within almost all of the areas considered on the team level. For the first time in the history of any professional sports league, there were more head coaches of color than white head coaches in the NBA. The number of NBA head coaches of color reached an all-time high of 53 percent. This includes the opportunity provided to Kaleb Canales of the Portland Trailblazers as the first Latino head coach in NBA history. Eric Spoelstra became the first coach of Asian descent in any major men’s sport to lead his team to the championship”, noted Lapchick.

In fact, it was a year of breakthroughs for people of Asian descent in the NBA. In addition to Spoelstra, Jeremy Lin had a sensational season with the Knicks before he was injured. Rich Cho, who became the first Asian general manager in any major men’s professional sports league in 2010 when he was GM in Portland, was hired by the Bobcats as General Manager.

Among general managers and top player personnel executives, 26 percent of these positions were held by people of color, representing the best in any of the men’s leagues.

The NBA continued to have the most racially diverse group of players of the major professional sports. People of color represented 82 percent of all players, and 78 percent of all players were African-American. The NBA also has a strong international contingent with 17 percent of all players from nations other than the United States.

Lapchick concluded, “Despite the strong overall grades for the NBA, there is always room for improvement. Most of that is in the area of gender hiring at the team level. But considering all factors, the NBA once again dominated the landscape for being a model league for racial and gender hiring practices.”

Below are some of the report’s highlights:

· African-Americans comprised 78 percent of all NBA players, equaling the largest percentage of African-American NBA players since the 1996-1997 season. Eighty-two percent of players were players of color.

· For the first time in the NBA’s history, there were more head coaches of color (53 percent) than white head coaches.

· African-American head coaches represented 47 percent of all NBA head coaches. This was the highest percentage of African-American head coaches since the 2001-2002 season. The 20-percentage point increase in head coaches of color was the greatest increase for people of color in any position in the 2011-2012 NBA Racial and Gender Report Card.

· Kaleb Canales became the first Latino head coach in the history of the NBA upon his promotion to interim head coach by the Portland Trail Blazers in March 2012.

· Erik Spoelstra, head coach of the Miami Heat, remained the only Asian NBA head coach for the fourth consecutive season. He became the first coach of Asian descent to lead his team to a championship when Miami beat Oklahoma City in 2012.

· At the NBA league office, there were six more women in vice president positions during the 2011-2012 season than in last year’s report, increasing the total to 39 positions.

· Women held 42 percent of all professional positions in the NBA league office, increasing one percentage point from the 2010-2011 season.

· African-Americans held 13 percent of all president and CEO positions for NBA franchises.

· NBA general managers of color remained constant at 26 percent for the 2011-2012 season. There are seven African-American (23 percent) general managers in the NBA. Rich Cho, now General Manager of the Charlotte Bobcats, remains the only Asian general manager in the history of the NBA. Upon his hiring by the Portland Trailblazers in 2010, he became the first Asian-American general manager in major American men’s professional sports.

· Women held 18 percent of vice president positions in the NBA, a three-percentage point increase from the 2010-2011 season.

· As of the start of the 2011-2012 season, there were ten teams with more than one vice president of color.

· People of color represented 22 percent of senior administration positions as of the beginning of the 2011-2012 NBA season.

· The percentage of women who held senior administration positions decreased by two percentage points to 25 percent in 2011-2012.

· The percentage of people of color who held professional administration positions decreased by two percentage points to 25 percent.

· There were seven African-American chief executive officers and presidents in the NBA. Terdema Ussery of the Dallas Mavericks held the role of both CEO and President for the Dallas Mavericks.

· There are two women who held the role of president for NBA franchises as of the beginning of the 2011-2012 season. Matina Kolokotronis and Irina Pavlova, the only females to hold this position since 2006-2007, have held these positions for the past two seasons.

· The percentage of NBA team physicians who are people of color increased dramatically from 10 percent in 2010-2011 to 17 percent in 2011-2012.

· The percentage of head athletic trainers of color increased to 33 percent from 20 percent as of the beginning of the 2011-2012 season. This was the second greatest increase in the percentage of positions held by people of color in any group, behind head coaches.

The percentage of NBA officials of color increased by one percentage point to 46 percent. 54 percent of the NBA’s referees were white, 41 percent were African-American and 3 percent were Latino. Of the 62 referees, one was a woman.

The Racial and Gender Report Card is issued sport-by-sport. The National Basketball Association Racial and Gender Report Card follows the Major League Baseball study and is the second report issued in 2012. The NBA Report Card will be followed by Report Cards on the Women’s National Basketball Association, the National Football League, Major League Soccer and College Sport. The complete Racial and Gender Report Card will be issued thereafter.