New York Knicks: Steve Mills, Scott Perry opening doors for next generation

New York Knicks (Photo by Steven Freeman/NBAE via Getty Images)
New York Knicks (Photo by Steven Freeman/NBAE via Getty Images) /

New York Knicks president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry hope their success can open doors for African-Americans who aspire to be executives.

The New York Knicks made waves by promoting Steve Mills to president and hiring Scott Perry as the new general manager. It was the dawn of a new era, as the Knicks moved on from the infatuation with big names and embraced the need for experience in the front office.

By hiring Perry and promoting Mills, the Knicks have created an opportunity for two more than qualified individuals to open doors for future generations.

Mills has been in the NBA since 1984, and held the position of the Knicks’ general manager from 2013 to 2017—a run that culminated with his replacing team president Phil Jackson. Perry has been in the NBA since 2000, including his successful tenure with the NBA champion Detroit Pistons.

Although their paths haven’t directly crossed until now, the veteran duo is already making history.

According to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, Mills and Perry form the one and only front office in the NBA with an African-American president and an African-American general manager.

For all that the Knicks have done wrong in recent years, this is a wonderful example of the organization being ahead of the curve.

This is another beautiful example of members of the organization making progress in a race-related manner. Franchise player Carmelo Anthony did so with his social activism, and the organization never attempted to silence him in an NFL-like manner.

The combination of Mills and Perry will shine a light on how irrational it is for a league of predominantly black players to have so few black executives.

Per Ian Begley of ESPN New York, Perry is aware of the gravity of his situation, and hopes that he and Mills can open doors for aspiring African-Americans who are pursuing front office jobs.

"“That’s not something lost on me,” Perry said. “I mentioned in my opening about my dad (Lowell). His history in the game (as an assistant with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1950s, Lowell was the first African American coach in the NFL since the 1920s) and that being groundbreaking. At end of the day, we want to be recognized for the quality of individuals we are and what type of job we’ll do to produce a winner in New York regardless of race. But I also would be remiss not to say I don’t understand the gravity of that and embrace the gravity of that. Hopefully if we’re successful it will open the doors for other young aspiring African Americans who want to have these jobs.”"

Per Begley, Mills echoed Perry’s sentiments and expressed how important it is to create opportunities for the next generation.

"“This is creating opportunities for young kids to look up to you and think it’s something they can do in this business and be successful.”"

Mills and Perry are walking on land that borders unprecedented territory in the NBA.

While the cynics may be skeptical, Mills and Perry were hired because of their respective business and basketball acumen. Mills has been one of Dolan’s most trusted executives, contributing to multiple regimes during his time in New York.

That includes the Phil Jackson administration that, while troubled, acquired the likes of Kristaps Porzingis and Willy Hernangomez via the NBA Draft.

Mills has worked hard to overcome stereotypes in business, and has now achieved the highest ranking organizational position from a basketball perspective.

As for Perry, he began his NBA career with Joe Dumars and the Pistons in 2000. Over the course of his seven seasons in Detroit, Perry helped the team win an NBA championship, make a second Finals appearance, and reach five of its six consecutive Eastern Conference Finals.

Perry also played a large part in the Orlando Magic drafting Aaron Gordon, Victor Oladipo, and Elfrid Payton, and the Sacramento Kings having a universally praised offseason in 2017.

Together, Perry and Mills will look to achieve success both within and beyond basketball as they create opportunities for other African-Americans to enter a field that’s inexcusably devoid of people of color.

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Steve Mills, Scott Perry, and the New York Knicks are breaking down doors. Together, they aim to make it possible for African-American men and women to become NBA executives.