In another first for the NBA, a Latino has been named a full-time head coach for the first time in league history. The Charlotte Hornets gave James Borrego the reins as head coach. This is a first for the league in the 72-year history. The 40-year-old coach was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His coaching career started in 2001 as an assistant for University of San Diego and then made the leap to the NBA as an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs in 2003.
James Borrego joins a select group of Latinos to ever be named head coach in the NBA but the first to ever be an external full-time hire.
— Salud America! (@SaludAmerica) May 11, 2018
Dick Versace, head coach of the Indiana Pacers from 1988 to 1990, and Earl Watson, who coached the Phoenix Suns from 2015 to 2017, were both of Latino descent but were only given interim coach titles. Borrego’s resume speaks for itself as he has amassed 15 years of experience in the NBA as well as an interim head coach run in 2015 for the Orlando Magic.
“He has been a part of teams that have ascended to the highest levels of success in our league and understands what it takes to win in the NBA,” Mitch Kupchak, General Manager of the Charlotte Hornets told the official team website. “James is considered one of the NBA’s most well-regarded assistant coaches and it’s great to have him as part of our team.”
Borrego’s hiring is positive news for the NBA as the number of Latino players have decreased.
— Carlos Gutierrez (@LonestarLos) May 9, 2018
The number of Latino players in the NBA decreased from 6.3 percent in 2015-16 to 4.9 percent during the 2016-17 season according to the 2017 Racial and Gender Report Card: National Basketball Association. The NBA has paved the way for coaches before as Bill Russell in 1966 became the first non-white and African-American head coach in the NBA after the Boston Cetics hired him. Erik Spoelstra became the NBA’s first Asian-American head coach when the Miami Heat promoted him in 2008.
Many are cheering for this landmark moment for Latinos in the NBA.
Congrats Coach James Borrego First Latino Mexican Coach!! (assistant Spurs Coach) picked as Head Coach by Charlotte Hornets. Breaking barriers mi Hermano!! Be blessed in all your endeavors!!
— Jose M Rodriguez (@Alske76) May 13, 2018
For the NBA, this isn’t just another hiring but a moment to acknowledge the growth and expansion of the league and how far Latinos have gone to make an impact in the sport. Good luck to James this season and I’m sure all Latinos will be cheering for his continued success in the NBA.