ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith blasted the Boston Celtics for making Brad Stevens their new general manager, suggesting that Stevens got the job because he is white.
“It’s moments like this where I get on people’s nerves — particularly, white America and in the NBA community specifically, because I point out it’s beautiful to be a white guy,” Smith said Wednesday on ESPN’s First Take.
Smith noted that as a coach, Brad Stevens did generally good, but not stellar, work with the Celtic this season. However, despite Stevens’ record, Smith was angered that the job did not go to a black man.
“You’re a question mark as a coach in some people’s eyes, including in Boston. But somehow, some way, you’re moving upstairs,” Smith exclaimed. “And the opportunities for African Americans continue to dwindle and dwindle and dwindle.
“We’re talking about the coach. We’re not even getting into Black folks in executive positions. We’ve got one Black man with power,” Smith continued. “I’m talking about one dude. And his name is Masai Ujiri in Toronto. We don’t even have in the NBA a Black dude that’s in the United States that’s making the final call on basketball-related matters.
“And somehow, someway, Brad Stevens — who I like, who I believe deserves to be a head coach on this level — a shaky season and he’s going upstairs. That’s my reaction to that,” the ESPN talker explained.
Still, the Celtics have publicly said that they have wanted to keep Stevens around and there is nowhere to go but up when you reach these levels in such an organization.
Smith was not the only one to complain that the promotion was a result of a white-guy, good-old-boy network phenomenon.
Slamming the “old boy network,” Yahoo! Sports’ Brad Wetzel wrote, “That Stevens is white in a league that is so predominantly Black will be of great interest across the sport. Even if you believe the hire was 100 percent justified professionally and ethically, as a simple practical and competitive matter, how it came about is significant.”
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