Where amazing happens for Spoelstra, et al.By Percy D. Della
Philippine Daily Inquirer
SACRAMENTO, California—The National Basketball Association, true to its marketing mantra is where amazing happens—for head coaches of color.
Erik Spoelstra, hired by the world champion Miami Heat in 2008, is the first Filipino and Asian-American head coach in the NBA. He returned the favor by piloting the Heat to their second world title last season.
Until his replacement by Terry Stotts, Kaleb Canales of the Portland Trail Blazers was the first Mexican-American ever to become team skipper in the premier basketball league on the planet.
Barring any personnel changes before its 67th season unfolds on Oct. 27, half of the 30 main bench mentors in the 30-team league are minorities, 14 of them African-Americans.
They include the ever-smiling Keith Smart of the Sacramento Kings—more respected than reviled by the team’s Fil-Am fans in the greater Sacramento Metro area, and remembered by the hardcore hard court crowd back home.
After his NBA career hit the skids, Smart packed his bags for Manila to don a San Miguel Beer jersey in the 1989 PBA Reinforced Conference.
Smart is all too familiar with the role of imports in the PBA, where the paycheck is great and the demand to produce is greater. If you’re a hired gun, you have to deliver or you’re out the door.
Doc Rivers of the Boston Celtics told the Associated Press recently that he was surprised by the number of black and minority coaches like him in the NBA, “but not by the trend.”
“I don’t think it’s a big deal anymore, especially in our league and I think we probably set the tone in all leagues in that way,” said Rivers, a head coach since 2004.
Besides Rivers and Smart, the NBA’s other black head coaches are Mike Brown (Los Angeles Lakers), Avery Johnson (New Jersey), Tyrone Corbin (Utah Jazz, Dwane Casey (Toronto), Paul Silas (Charlotte), Lionel Hollins (Memphis), Larry Drew (Atlanta), Alvin Gentry (Phoenix), Monty Williams (New Orleans), Mark Jackson (Golden State), Byron Scott (Cleveland Cavaliers) and Mark Goodson (New York Knicks).
These guys are among the highest-paid executives in American business, if you look at the NBA like a Fortune 500 company.
Hollins told the AP that NBA teams “are starting to understand that (minority coaches) can organize and prepare and motivate and teach just as well as anybody else. I think our whole society is learning that.”
League president David Stern frames the issue better. He explains that the NBA believes in America’s immigrant past and immigrant future.
Sterns said the league gets raves and a grade of A-plus from a watchdog group for hiring the most minorities as coaches and front-office personnel because of a sure-fire formula.
According to Stern the only thing that matters is “picking the best candidates” of any color.
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An ambitious P407-billion infrastructure project unveiled by the Aquino administration includes P16.3 billion for the construction of roads and bridges across the country in the next four years.
I hope the Ilocos congressional delegation played a game of one-upmanship ruthlessly in the august halls and convinced the leadership to fund their pet projects.
One vital bridge would link barangays Darapidap and Tamurong Primero in my adopted Candon City, Ilocos Sur. Such a span would speed up travel for tourists and locals from the city center to the Candon coast—without going through the so-called Gacula Highway—a long route in need of more repair work.
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