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After Sean Marks hire, sports writers lament lack of front office diversity

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Brooklyn Nets

Before Billy King was ousted from his GM job back in January, the Nets were one of only five NBA teams to have an African-American GM The others are Dell Demps in New Orleans, Milt Newton in Minnesota, Masai Ujiri in Toronto and Doc Rivers who holds both coaching and GM jobs in L.A. with the Clippers.

Now that Sean Marks has been hired to fill King's spot, three well-known sports writers --all African-American-- are suggesting that while Marks is a solid if inexperienced hire, the hiring process fits a pattern: owners are not interviewing candidates of color for the top jobs on their team.  None of the eight candidates interviewed by the Nets search committee are African-American. Three, including Marks, are foreign-born.

David Aldridge of NBA.com and TNT wrote Monday...

"Nothing against Sean Marks, who is smart and earnest and capable, and comes from the Spurs Family Tree. I get that he'd be an attractive candidate for anyone and that the Nets would like some of that Spurs structure in their organization. But there are so many veteran executives around the league who have toiled for much longer than Marks -- who joined San Antonio's front office just three years ago -- and who have been involved with winning organizations as well, who never get as much as an interview."

Aldridge then lists four African-American executives he believes should get interviews: Troy Weaver of OKC, Ed Tapscott of Washingon and Scott Perry of Orlando.

In a column Sunday, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe adds other names he thinks deserve consideration: Mark Hughes and Allan Houston of the Knicks, Marc Eversley of Washington, Brandon Williams of Philadelphia and Gerald Madkins of the Clippers. He  also uses the Marks hiring to highlight concerns about diversity in teams' upper ranks.

"Privately, there were several GM hopefuls of color who shook their heads at the hiring of Marks, who is white. Not just because someone with no GM experience was hired, but because the Nets didn’t bother bringing in a handful of those candidates for interviews...

"There have been rumblings for years that African-American GM candidates are being passed over for younger counterparts. Those counterparts have more of a background in analytics, which is becoming a sticking point.

Washburn asks of the trend, "And who is to say the aforementioned candidates, or former African-American GMs looking for another chance, wouldn’t heavily rely on analytics?

Stephen A. Smith thinks the NBA should adopt a "Rooney Rule," the NFL rule that requires National Football League teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs.  On the day Marks was hired, here's what Smith had to say...

"Just to make sure if nothing else that black candidates are being interviewed for these jobs and more importantly that we know who they are. when they are interviewed so we can stop hearing about these other names coming out nowhere that never happen to be black. At least get us in the mix where we start seeing guys --there's a plethora of assistant coaches out there, there are a plethora of basketball minds out there, guys who are assistants under the GM... These names need to be heard."

Of course, the Nets had an African-American GM for the entire time Mikhail Prokhorov owned the team ... and a coach of African-American heritage --Avery Johnson, Jason Kidd, Lionel Hollins and now Tony Brown-- for most of the time the Nets have been in Brooklyn. That was and is a rarity.

Is this the end of the story?  Or will we more protests down the line, particularly around the time the Nets start interviewing coaching candidates.  Stay tuned.