Top Stories

NBA receives A+ grade for racial hiring practices

Based on the 2022-23 season, the league got an A+ grade in racial practices and diversity initiatives.

Adrian Griffin poses for a photo during his introductory press conference on June 6, 2023 at Gather in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 

The National Basketball Association set a league record for most head coaches of color in the past year, helping it earn high grades in an annual diversity report.

The NBA earned a combined grade of A in the 2023 NBA Racial and Gender Report Card released by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida on Tuesday. In November 2022, the league reached new all-time highs for head coaches of color (17) and Black head coaches (16). As of the report’s release, the league had 15 head coaches of color.

The Milwaukee Bucks hired Adrian Griffin, who is Black, as a first-time head coach this offseason. Richard Lapchick, the director for TIDES, said it matters that so many of the league’s 30 teams are led by people of color because such hires lead to increased diversity in other positions.

“When a league takes the initiative to set the kind of example that the NBA does, that’s not only good for sport, but good for society as well,” he said.

The report annually examines hiring for positions with franchises and in league leadership. This study used league data from the 2022-23 season. The league received an A+ for racial hiring practices and a B+ for gender hiring practices. The league also received an A+ in diversity initiatives.

“We’re encouraged that the data reflected in the TIDES Race and Gender Report Card signifies the NBA’s dedication to attracting and developing a diverse pool of talented employees,” Lesley Slaton Brown, NBA Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, said in a statement. “We will continue to focus on these efforts to drive progress across our global business.”

In June, the NBA G League Stockton Kings named Lindsey Harding their head coach and Anjali Ranadivé as the team’s general manager. It’s the first time in NBA G League history that two women will lead a team.

The NBA League office reached its highest percentage of women in professional staff roles in over a decade with 43.3%. The league made leaps of more than 30% in both racial and gender hiring for team senior administration and racial hiring for team professional staff.

Lapchick said people will spend money where they see people who resemble themselves.

“The NBA was really the first league to realize – and this was a long time ago — that diversity now is a business imperative, not just a moral imperative,” Lapchick said. “And they’ve made it a part of their business principles to be inclusive and to use that image that they have to market the league as successfully as they have.”

The report said the NBA still lacks diversity at the highest levels. The league got an F grade for having just 10% of team governors being women and a D+ grade for having just 13.3% of team governors being people of color. It also received F grades for racial and gender diversity grades at the president/CEO level. Lapchick said while these grades are low, they are better than the other American men’s leagues TIDES studies.

This is the second in the series of report cards from TIDES this year following Major League Baseball. It will be followed with reports on the Women’s National Basketball Association, National Football League, Major League Soccer and college sports.