The search for the Chicago Bulls’ new top exec may be over, but it is prompting a desire for a person of color to be named the team’s next general manager.
As media reports have surfaced highlighting the good news of the Bulls bringing on board Arturas Karnisovas as the vice president of basketball operations, the team has come under fire at the same time for the way the search for a new top executive was handled.
The organization had been reportedly eying the services of several big-name front office candidates, including Chad Buchanan (Indiana Pacers), Bobby Webster (Toronto Raptors) and Adam Simon (Miami Heat). The trouble started when the Bulls were denied the ability to interview certain individuals for the then-available position, which prompted the organization to give consideration to candidates of the likes of Bryan Colangelo, Wes Wilcox and Danny Ferry, all of whom have track records marred by controversy involving racially-charged circumstances.
How, you ask?
The Bulls turned to interview a slate of all-too-familiar white candidates. This is not a knock against Karnisovas and what he can offer the organization. He certainly qualifies for the job and is a safe selection to make. The problem is that for a league that prides itself on embracing diversity, the Bulls should have done a better job of casting a wide net for candidates. Instead, the organization seemingly balked when tasked with taking its first steps toward revamping the front office.
In a report published by NBC Sports Chicago, many black executives blasted the Bulls for neglecting a large pool of eligible candidates. Among the current black NBA assistant general managers include: Chicago native Michael Finley of the Dallas Mavericks, Calvin Booth of the Denver Nuggets and Milt Newton of the Milwaukee Bucks.
This isn’t to say the Bulls didn’t try to give consideration to any persons of color for the then-available position as vice president of basketball operations. For one thing, the Bulls wanted to interview Oklahoma City Thunder Vice President of Basketball Operations Troy Weaver, an African American. But they were denied by the Thunder, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
In the past, the Bulls have shown some commitment to diversity by hiring Karen Stack Umlauf as an assistant coach. She is one of only a handful of women to possess such a role in the NBA.
Still, the diversity issue lingers for the Bulls.
It’s worth noting that it’s not only black executives blasting the Bulls organization for the handling of its search for a new top executive.
In an interview with Marc Spears of The Undefeated, former Nets General Manager Bobby Marks, who is white and now works for ESPN, described the Bulls’ situation as an “embarrassment.”
"“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.”"
If there’s a silver lining to this story, it’s made possible by referencing a report published by Yahoo Sports highlighting how Karnisovas plans to hire a person of color as the Bulls’ next general manager. The Bulls appear to have already started informal talks with former Bull Nazr Mohammed to fill the position.
Still, it remains unclear if a person of color will actually be named the team’s next general manager.
The hope is that Karnisovas will make it happen, giving both himself and the Bulls organization a chance to navigate the optics of what was viewed in some ways as a shoddy search for a new top executive.