The NBA season is right around the corner and we’re debuting a new series of profiles on the global majority’s representation among league coaches. We begin our series with a closer look at the Knicks new head coach David Fizdale.
His Los Angeles upbringing helped shape his worldview
Fizdale grew up in LA’s South Central during a volatile time in the 80s and early 90s. The crack epidemic, gang violence were all too prevalent as Fizdale came into his adolescence.
“Many times bullets were shot in the yard where I would be playing football or hanging out,” Fizdale told the New York Post. “Rival gangs would just literally be walking outside of a car being driven slow, and bullets just being shot in our total direction ’cause they don’t know the difference between a gangbanger and a kid that’s just hanging out. So they didn’t care.”
Fizdale was also the victim of constant harassment from the police. He says cops would stop him four to five times a week while he was in high school. He recalls one harrowing incident with cops while driving to a house party.
“They got rough with us and slammed us up against the car, squeezed our fingers behind our head like until you would want to cry, basically,” Fizdale told ESPN’s The Undefeated. “And then they left us on our knees in the street with our hands over our head, for like 45 minutes. In the middle of a street, a residential street.”
Since becoming a public figure, Fizdale has used his platform to speak out on social issues. While coaching the Grizzlies, he called for the removal of two confederate statues in Memphis.
“Everything I’ve gone through in my life and witnessed and experienced has shaped me into what I stand for today and that man that I am today,” Fizdale said. “When I see things aren’t right, and aren’t being addressed properly, in a respectful way, I try to make sure that I stand for something right and that I stand on the right side of history.”