Timberwolves show improvement in 2017 diversity report card

The National Basketball Association under Commissioner Adam Silver’s leadership remains the undisputed racial and gender hiring leader, according to the latest “Racial and Gender Report Card” (RGRC) by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES).

“Generally speaking the NBA tends to improve on both racial and gender hiring practices” each year, noted TIDES Director Richard Lapchick to the MSR prior to the latest NBA report’s release last month. “The other leagues have gotten better over the years, but they haven’t caught up [with the NBA], who has been out front and stayed out front.”

Even more important locally, after years of lagging behind the rest of the league in this regard, the Minnesota Timberwolves showed some progress in the 2017 RGRC, which was duly noted in Lapchick’s June 29 report.

A year after the organization got rid of its Black head coach, most of his Black assistants, and the Black general manager in favor of Whites, John Thomas (community engagement VP) and Sianneh Mulbah (human resources VP) are now members in the franchise front office. Both were listed among the 39 Black males (Thomas) and 20 Black females (Mulbah) that are NBA team vice presidents.

The Wolves also are among 22 teams with more than one vice-president of color.

(MGN Online)

A new grading scale — “an adjustment to the changing demographics of the country” that precipitated the first change in nearly 20 years of RGRCs — is now used, noted Lapchick. To get an A for race, at least 30 percent people of color is needed, and 45 percent is needed for an A for gender. Above these numbers earns an A-plus.

An A was achieved if 24 percent of the positions were held by people of color; a B if 12 percent; a C for nine percent; a D for at least six percent; and an F for below six percent.

The NBA’s overall grades are: A for racial hiring and a B-minus for gender hiring; an A-plus for racial hiring in the League Office, assistant coaches, team professional administration; and an A for head coaches.

The league also earned a B-minus for gender hiring, a B-plus for team senior administration and League Office gender hiring; a B for team vice-presidents; a C-minus for senior administrators; a D for female team vice-presidents; and an F for general managers.

The report highlights include an increase in people of color as team VPs and professional administrators; a one-percent increase in assistant coaches of color; and more women as vice-presidents, senior administrators and professional administration positions.

Among the lowlights are a decline in general managers of color (down 10 percent). Head coaches of color remained the same as in 2015-16 (30 percent).

“Even with the [new] high standards, I was impressed that the grades didn’t change very much,” stated Lapchick.

Overall, Lapchick said that there weren’t any surprises in this year’s NBA RGRC. The 2017 NFL report card is expected to be out in August.

“I think the NBA has been committed to it for so long that it has gotten so far ahead” in its diversity efforts, concluded the director.


The entire 2017 NBA Racial and Gender Report Card can be downloaded and read at www.tidesport.org.

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-recorder.com.