In the wake of George Floyd's death while in police custody in Minneapolis last week, the Minnesota Timberwolves have been active in the community while pushing for changing social injustice with a diverse staff in place.
As the NBA's only Latino president of basketball operations, the Wolves' Gersson Rosas hopes this tragedy can increase diversity in front offices in professional sports.
"It's something that's near and dear to my heart. The opportunity to have equal opportunity for individuals is critical to not only representation sake but also for success. Our game of basketball is not an American game, it's an international game, a global game," Rosas told reporters during Wednesday's end-of-season Zoom media availability. "And you're cheating yourself if you don't have diverse perspectives.
"There's not just one way to play the game. If you ask anybody that studies our game, we're playing a European game right now. This is not a U.S.-made, developed game, it's different, and because of that, there's an opportunity with different perspectives and experiences in different backgrounds.
"I'm very blessed and humbled by the opportunity that I've been given, but I shouldn't be the only one, and I've got to do my part to provide those opportunities and to open those doors and to help others. Not just Latinos but any underrepresented community," he continued. "It's going to be critical that we do our part, and there's qualified individuals out there. Whether it's to run teams or to be head coaches, our league is full of talent, and the NBA, in terms of professional sports, has been a leader in diversity and development in training, and we have to continue along those paths. In a lot of ways, we're a reflection of the community, and our ability to do our part to open those doors and support those opportunities is incredible."
The Timberwolves have continually encouraged their players to speak up on sensitive topics such as race while dealing with their emotions internally, as a staff, concerning racial inequity and systemic racism following the death of Floyd.
On Tuesday, the Timberwolves and WNBA's Lynx also announced joining Team Up for Change to use their platform to effect change in the areas mentioned above, while collaborating with the Sacramento Kings on a PSA urging unity and action in the wake of the Floyd killing.
Assistant GM Joe Branch, who is African American, has also led an ongoing series of providing players and staff with opportunities to better themselves and come together as a team. Some of those activities have included Zoom meetings with motivational speakers such as Eric Thomas, Inky Johnson, Bishop T.D. Jakes and former football coach Tony Dungy, plus trips to Memphis' National Civil Rights Museum and Washington, D.C.'s National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Players, coaches and staff are also provided with informative books.
"We're fortunate, and it's by design with the staff that we have in place. That's a diverse staff and they have diverse perspectives," Rosas said. "I'd say it's one of the most positive steps that we've done as an organization in that we've been able to improve through this process."