The Phoenix Suns got eliminated by the Denver Nuggets in the NBA playoffs last Thursday. Shortly thereafter, head coach Monty Williams was fired by the Suns.
The move surprised media personnel and fans alike. Williams had a 62.8 winning percentage in his four seasons with Phoenix, made the playoffs the past three years and got to the NBA Finals in 2021. Plus, the Suns just added superstar Kevin Durant to a lineup that already had Deandre Ayton, Chris Paul, and Devin Booker. Under Williams’ leadership, that roster was one of the best in the NBA.
However, the NBA is a cutthroat business. But most reasonable people would never - for a second - think that racism affects who gets fired and who keeps their jobs in these types of situations.
But former NBA player Stephen Jackson isn't "most people." On the “I Am Athlete” podcast, Jackson said that Williams was fired so that a white coach could get credit for guiding the powerhouse that Phoenix in all likelihood will become.
Stephen Jackson says the Suns did former Coach of the Year Monty Williams wrong:— I AM ATHLETE (@IAMATHLETEpod) May 15, 2023
“When teams come together like this, they quick to go and find a white coach, just throw him in that position so he can get all the credit.” 👀
Full #PaperRoute convo 📰 → https://t.co/Z8TBpEz3rg pic.twitter.com/TUou4UUuwm
“I didn’t think they were gonna get rid of the coach. I think he was the right coach for the job,” Jackson said. “But you know how they do. When teams come together like this, they’re quick to go and find a white coach somewhere around, just throw him in that position so he can get all the credit.”
Now, the first part of Jackson’s quote makes sense. Williams did seem to be a great guy to lead that team, and the Suns may have made a rash decision.
But the second part is where his argument goes off the rails. NBA teams don’t fire coaches because they want white ones to lead their teams. Plus, black coaches aren’t the only ones to get axed after a disappointing playoff run despite having multiple years of success with a franchise.
Mike Budenholzer led the Milwaukee Bucks to the best record in the NBA in the past five years and an NBA title in 2021, ironically over Williams’ Suns. But after losing to the 8th-seeded Miami Heat in the first round of this postseason, he was relieved of his duties. Budenholzer is white (not that it matters to anyone but race-baiters, of course).
Furthermore, Los Angeles Clippers coach Ty Lue - who is black - is being reported by some as the favorite to win the head coaching vacancy in "The Valley." So are the suns really being racist, or is Jackson just saying stuff for clicks and likes?