Rolling Out

Pelicans GM says evolution is critical for Black sports professionals

Pelicans GM says evolution is critical for Black sports professionals
Trajan Langdon (top, left) was joined by Kela Clarke (clockwise, from top right), Swin Cash-Canal and Damien Hooper-Campbell during “The Evolution of the Black Sports Professional” panel discussion at the RIDE Con 2020. (Zoom screenshot from Steed Media)

Trajan Langdon, general manager of the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans, spoke during the 2020 virtual Rolling Out Innovation, Digital and Entertainment Conference.

Langon was a star basketball player at Duke University before moving into the professional ranks, playing several years in the NBA as a shooting guard with the Cleveland Cavaliers as well as overseas. Prior to taking the GM job with the Pelicans, he worked as an assistant general manager with the Brooklyn Nets.

Langdon spoke with rolling out about how critical it is for Black professional athletes and sports executives to grow and evolve in today’s racial climate.

“What has gone on in our country for the past six months brought about people educating themselves, not only about sports, [but also about] African Americans in sports and African Americans in this country,” Langdon said during a panel titled “The Evolution of the Black Sports Professional.” He was joined by Kela Clarke, chief executive officer of the New York Liberty; Swin Cash-Canal, vice president of basketball operations and team development for the Pelicans; and Damien Hooper-Campbell, Zoom’s first chief diversity officer.

Langdon said his past looked very different from today and how a new day has called for a new approach. “Looking back [at] these different events and what’s going on, you didn’t even think of it as a front office,” he said. “It didn’t come across as issues we need to talk with our players about and get in front of.”

But that’s all changed, and Langdon said he has had to take steps as a leader to meet the needs of his players.

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