Stephen A. Smith on Brad Stevens getting Celtics’ GM job: ‘It’s beautiful to be a white guy’

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The Celtics made an unexpected move on Wednesday when GM Danny Ainge announced his retirement and the team confirmed that coach Brad Stevens would replace him as the team’s head of basketball operations.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith wasn’t impressed with the move at all.

On ESPN’s “First Take”, Smith discussed Stevens’ promotion and claimed he may have gotten the promotion because of white privilege.

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“It’s moments like this where I get on people’s nerves — particularly, white America and in the NBA community specifically, because I point out it’s beautiful to be a white guy,” Smith said.

Smith did acknowledged the reasons that Stevens’ Celtics had trouble this season. Notably, he pointed out that Jaylen Brown was unavailable for the Celtics vs. Nets series and that Brooklyn has one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.

MORE: Eight best Celtics coaching candidates to replace Brad Stevens

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That said, Smith still felt like Stevens’ promotion was unwarranted and that the team could’ve fired him in the middle of the season. Beyond that, he discussed the lack of diversity in NBA front offices.

“You’re a question mark as a coach in some people’s eyes, including in Boston. But somehow, some way, you’re moving upstairs,” Smith said. “And the opportunities for African Americans continue to dwindle and dwindle and dwindle.”

And as Smith outlined, that disparity of opportunities is very apparent when looking at the leaders of each front office league-wide.

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“We’re talking about the coach. We’re not even getting into Black folks in executive positions. We’ve got one Black man with power,” Smith said. “I’m talking about one dude. And his name is Masai Ujiri in Toronto. We don’t even have in the NBA a Black dude that’s in the United States that’s making the final call on basketball-related matters.

“And somehow, someway, Brad Stevens — who I like, who I believe deserves to be a head coach on this level — a shaky season and he’s going upstairs. That’s my reaction to that.”

The Celtics always made it clear they wanted to keep Stevens in their organization. With him reportedly “worn down” from coaching, the team clearly felt the most sensible way to do so was for him to replace Ainge. The Celtics have long valued stability both in the front office and on the coaching staff.

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