Report: Bulls front office search lacks diversity and is frustrating many

Report: Bulls front office search lacks diversity and is frustrating many

The Bulls have conducted five interviews for a new head of basketball operations this week. Notably, whichever of those candidates the hire is will be just the franchise's third lead executive since Jerry Reinsdorf purchased the team in 1985.

And notably, every candidate but one — Bobby Webster, whose mother is Japanese-American — has been white.

The latter fact has sparked frustration around the league, according to reporting by Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (ESPN). Spears cited multiple league sources — many of them black executives who spoke under the condition of anonymity — in a story that paints a picture of a hiring process that has neglected a large swath of candidates.

Spears reported (via league sources) that "Bulls COO and president Michael Reinsdorf, who has been conducting virtual interviews, had not spoken to any black potential candidates as of Wednesday morning."

One quote, from former Nets executive and current ESPN NBA Insider Bobby Marks (who is white), rings especially strong. From The Undefeated:

“It’s an embarrassment that the Bulls elected not to interview a minority candidate in their search for a new head of basketball operations,” Marks said. “You will never know what you have or could have hired, unless you sit down with them and have a face-to-face conversation.”

The NFL has a provision intended to protect against biased hiring process (whether consciously or subconsciuosly) called the Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview ethnic-minority candidates for front office positions. 

The NBA has no such policy in spite of 75% of the league's athletes being black. Spears notes that there are currently six black assistant GMs in the NBA — one, Michael Finley of the Dallas Mavericks, is a Chicago native, and just last week, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told Mike Fisher of Sports Illustrated Finley would "be amazing" for the Bulls gig. 

But none of their names have cropped up at any point in the search process, all while the Bulls reportedly spoke to GMs with fraught histories. Former Atlanta Hawks GM Danny Ferry, remember, took an extended leave of absence and eventually resigned after audio surfaced of him reading a racist scouting report about Luol Deng. Wes Wilcox — also a former GM of the Hawks — in 2017 was disciplined by the team for making a racially charged joke at a season ticket holder event. Bryan Colangelo famously left his station as president of basketball operations/general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers after a report by The Ringer emerged alleging that he operated multiple burner Twitter accounts that denigrated 76ers players. News surfaced of all three interviewing for the Bulls' lead executive role on Wednesday. 

Denver Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas has emerged as a frontrunner for the Bulls' front office gig, and no one is questioning his worthiness. But Spears' report is telling that a league that often touts its commitment to diversity still has a long way to go.

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Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich, Anquan Boldin offer solutions to US racial inequity

Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich, Anquan Boldin offer solutions to US racial inequity

Steve Kerr joined Gregg Popovich, Anquan Boldin, Demario Davis and Andrew McCutchen to co-author an op-ed offering concrete solutions to address some of the problems raised by protesters across the country.

To achieve a more equitable justice system for people of color, the op-ed says police need to be held accountable for their actions.

“When these killings occur, we tweet, we write letters, we make videos demanding accountability,” Kerr et al. said. “We protest and we vow to change hearts and minds so that our young men can run through the streets without fear.

“And soon after, we see another officer kill a black person, usually a man, and usually without consequence. Where, we wonder, is the ‘accountability’ allegedly so important when it comes to arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating young people of color?”

The problem, Kerr et al. say, is that police supervisors simply don’t have the power to take away a bad officer’s badge.

“Among the greatest obstacles to cleaning up our police departments are police union contracts, which hamstring officials’ ability to fire officers who engage in bad and even deadly behavior,” Kerr et al. said. “Those contracts, nearly always negotiated behind closed doors, have clauses that determine how misbehavior may be disciplined. Many contracts prevent departments from investigating reports made by anonymous civilians. They allow officers accused of serious misconduct to review the complaint and the evidence before making statements to investigators, ensuring that they can craft their story to best explain whatever the evidence will show...

“In the rare case that a department pursues disciplinary action, many contracts require arbitration, which almost always results in reduced sanctions. In a survey of data compiled from 37 police departments in 2017, The Washington Post found that of 1,881 officers fired since 2006, 451 appealed and received their jobs back — nearly 25%.”

RELATED: Mitchell Trubisky breaks social media silence to support George Floyd protests

The op-ed says these contracts are renegotiated every few years, so if you’d like them to change it’s not hopeless.

“In Philadelphia, for example, the mayor renegotiates the police union contract next year. In Minneapolis, it is renegotiated every three years and is in negotiations now. We must demand that our elected officials remove terms explicitly designed to protect officers from investigation and discipline if we are going to have accountability and safety.”

The second suggestion the op-ed makes is doing away with “qualified immunity” for cops, which protects them “from legal liability for even the most outrageous conduct,” unless a legal precedent has been set with “basically identical facts.”

They elaborate by saying “qualified immunity” can be used to protect cops from wide-ranging accusations.

“One court, for example, found an officer had qualified immunity after he let his dog maul a homeless man,” Kerr et al. said. “In another case, officers who tried to steal $225,000 while on the job received immunity.”

Again, the heart of the matter for Kerr, Popovich, Boldin, Davis and McCutchen is accountability.

“Citizens face consequences for breaking the law and harming others; our government should make sure officers are no different.”

RELATED: Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts calls black leaders 'you people,' apologizes

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NBCA, Adam Silver speak out following George Floyd’s death and recent protests

NBCA, Adam Silver speak out following George Floyd’s death and recent protests

The National Basketball Coaches Association (NBCA hereafter) and commissioner Adam Silver recently joined the chorus of voices speaking out in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death.

A statement from the NBCA, signed by 33 coaches and almost 180 assistant coaches, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports:


The statement pinpoints “police brutality, racial profiling and the weaponization of racism” as “shameful, inhuman and intolerable.”

And their call for “positive change” will reportedly be followed by some action. The NBCA has also formed a “committee on racial injustice and reform to pursue solutions within NBA cities”  Wojnarowski reports, which will be comprised of at least Gregg Popovich, Steve Kerr, Lloyd Pierce, David Fizdale, Stan Van Gundy, Doc Rivers, JB Bickerstaff and Quin Snyder.

Already, many in the NBA community have acted to protest systemic racism and police brutality in the wake of Floyd’s death. Stephen Jackson, Karl-Anthony Towns and Josh Okogie demonstrated with many in Minneapolis. Jaylen Brown drove 15 hours from Boston to lead a peaceful march in Atlanta that also featured Malcolm Brogdon. Lonnie Walker aided in clean-up efforts after a night of protests in San Antonio. The list goes on from there.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver wrote in an internal memo to NBA employees obtained by ESPN that he was “heartened” by those “speaking out to demand justice, urging peaceful protest and working for meaningful change.” Silver also called for introspection and promised the NBA will “continue its efforts to promote inclusion and bridge divides through collective action, civic engagement, candid dialogue and support for organizations working towards justice and equality.” He expressed condolences to the Floyd family, outrage over the wrongful deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery and an obligation to not ignore the issues of “racism, police brutality and racial injustice.”

As of this writing, 26 of 30 NBA teams have issued statements on Floyd’s passing, either as entities or through organization spokespeople, ranging from executives to coaches. Hopefully, the words of many lead to action — and that action to appreciable change.

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