NBA commissioner David Stern and the owners might be failing in their ability to make progress in ongoing labor negotiations, but there’s one area in which the NBA always passes with flying colors: diversity.

The Associated Press reports that the league, once again, has earned an “A” grade for gender and racial diversity in its hiring practices.

An annual report released Thursday by the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport noted the NBA earned it’s highest-ever combined grade of 92.2, reflecting an A-plus for race and A-minus for gender. That’s up from the previous high of 91.5 in 2010, when it earned an A for race and A-minus for gender.

The NBA remains the only men’s pro sports league with a combined “A” for race and gender.

And the numbers aren’t even close, according to the primary author of the 38-page report, Richard Lapchick. The report notes that 42 percent of the professional positions in the NBA office are held by women and 36 percent are filled by people of color – numbers Lapchick said speaks to strides the league has made under Commissioner David Stern.

“I think he would tell you they continue to try to get the best people for the job,” said Lapchick, chair of the DeVos Sport Business Management Program at UCF and director of The Institute for Diversity of Ethics in Sport.

Given recent history, the grade and recognition don’t come as surprises but they do serve as monster feathers in Stern’s cap. While he is often painted as an authoritarian ruler, the league’s track record on race and gender equality is unmatched. When it comes to hiring, the numbers don’t lie. Assuming that an extended labor stoppage doesn’t spoil his legacy, the strides in diversity will go down next to his shepharding of the league’s globalization as the major accomplishments of the Stern era.

Source: CBS, NBA aces annual diversity report. The NBA scores an “A” on an annual survey of diversity in professional sports. Posted by Ben Golliver. Posted on: June 16, 2011 7:12 pm. Edited on: June 16, 2011 7:20 pm