When Don Chaney replaced Jim Lynam as coach of the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, he became only the 12th black entrusted with running a team in the National Basketball Association's 38-year history.
If a black man's chances for staying a head coach depend, as many people in the league have said, on being in a "good" situation, which means a winning one, it seems natural that a stint with the Boston Celtics is a must for the potential coach's resume.
Chaney, a guard during 11 seasons in the NBA, spent eight of those years with Boston, including the championship years of 1969 and 1974. Of the 12 blacks placed in head coaching positions in the league, five played for Boston.
The most famous was center Bill Russell, who took the team to two NBA titles in his three seasons as the Celtics' head man between 1966 and 1969, during which time he had a record of 162-83.
Russell didn't fare as well in Seattle, taking over as coach in 1973 and remaining for four seasons, compiling a 162-166 record.
Interestingly enough, his replacement the following season, 1977-78, was a cousin, Bob Hopkins. He lasted only 22 games into the season before replaced by another black, Lenny Wilkens.
Wilkens picked up the pieces of a team that was rapidly unraveling and did a marvelous repair job, going 42-18 the remainder of that season and leading the team to the NBA finals before losing to the Washington Bullets. The next year, Seattle defeated the Bullets to win the NBA championship.
Seattle and Boston have had three black coaches, Detroit and the Clippers two each. The longest tenure of any black coach has been Al Attles with the Golden State Warriors. An enforcer during his playing days with the team and currently its general manager, he coached Golden State 12 full seasons and parts of two others. His record was 557-518.
For blacks, as with anyone who lands a head coaching position in the NBA, it doesn't hurt to have played in the league. Ten of the 12 black coaches played in the league. Black Coaches in the NBA Al Attles, Golden State Warriors, 1969-83. Record: 557-518. Elgin Baylor, New Orleans Jazz, 1974-75, 1976-79. Record: 86-135. Don Chaney, Los Angeles Clippers, 1985-. Record: 0-3. Bob Hopkins, Seattle SuperSonics, 1977-19. Record: 5-17. K.C. Jones, Washington Bullets, 1973-1976, Boston Celtics, 1983-. Record: 266-125. Earl Lloyd, Detroit Pistons, 1971-73. Record: 22-55. Willis Reed, New York Knicks, 1977-79. Record: 49-47. Bill Russell, Boston Celtics, 1966-69. Seattle SuperSonics, 1973-77. Record: 324-249. Tom Sanders, Boston Celtics, 1977-79. Record: 23-39. Ray Scott, Detroit Pistons, 1972-76. Record: 147-176. Paul Silas, Los Angeles Clippers, 1980-83. Record: 78-168. Lenny Wilkens, Portland Trail Blazers, 1974-76, Seattle SuperSonics, 1977-. Record: 427-351.