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Study: NBA remains leader among professional leagues for strong diversity

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ORLANDO, Fla. - The NBA remains the leader in diversity among professional sports leagues.

According to a report released Tuesday, the NBA received an A-plus grade for racial hiring and B-plus for gender hiring on its annual Racial and Gender Report Card. The league received an overall grade of A.

This is the sixth consecutive overall A grade the NBA has received in the annual report by the Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sport.

With Michael Jordan the Charlotte Hornets' majority owner and Vivek Ranadive the new controlling owner of the Sacramento Kings, the NBA is the first major pro league to have two owners of colour.

The league set records this season with assistant coaches of colour at 46.7 per cent and 48.4 per cent of its referees.

In the NBA league office, 35.1 per cent of all professional employees are people of colour and 40.9 per cent are women. There were 42 women serving as vice-presidents.

Study author Richard Lapchick noted that as strong as those figures are, there were slight decreases in the league office figures from a year ago.

The percentage of professional employees of colour at the league office dropped by 0.6 percentage points (from 35.7 per cent), while the percentage of women declined by 0.2 percentage point (from 41.1 per cent).

"Because percentages are so high now, it makes it so difficult to raise or maintain (the numbers)," Lapchick said. "I think the area that they can improve in is at the senior leadership positions at the team level. There are not so many women vice-presidents. ...There are quite a high number at the junior level, but the senior level has room for improvement. But, that said, they are far ahead of other professional sports leagues as far as gender hiring."

He said the high diversity standards David Stern set while commissioner are likely to continue under Adam Silver, who was Stern's deputy when many of the current diversity initiatives began.

This season Jason Collins became the NBA's first openly gay player.

"One of the things for me that is encouraging as I look at racial and gender issues across society is that there is a league like the NBA that you can look to, not only in sport, but in corporate America. ... to be a welcoming environment," Lapchick said. "They've changed the numbers, but they changed the culture as well."

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Online: www. http://tidesport.org/

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Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/khightower

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