The NBA seems closer to hiring a female head coach than any of the four major North American sports leagues, and Adam Silver would like it to happen as soon as possible.
ESPN interviewed the NBA commissioner Tuesday about the league and LeanIn.org’s launch of their gender equality awareness campaign, and Silver had plenty to say about women coaching and officiating in the NBA. In fact, Silver is certain there’ll be a female head coach someday.
“There definitely will,” Silver said. “And I think it is on me to sort of ensure that it happens sooner rather than later.”
Silver already is on the road to ensuring there are more women involved in the NBA, as the league will increase its officiating pool by 25 percent over the next few seasons, and Silver said his plan is to recruit from pools of men and women equally. The commissioner also took major issue with WFAN’s Mike Francesa’s recent comments that women have no chance of becoming head coaches in men’s leagues.
“First of all, let me say that I disagree that there will not be a woman head coach in the NBA,” Silver told ESPN. “It is hard to say exactly when. There are three women currently in the pipeline, and I think like we have seen in all other aspects of life, while there are certain cases for example, the athletes that participate in the NBA, there are obvious physical differences between men and women and those differences are why we have a men’s league and a women’s league.
“But on the other hand when it comes to coaching, when there is absolutely no physical requirement, when it is not a function of how high you can jump or how strong you are, there is no physical litmus test to being a head coach in the league, there is absolutely no reason why a woman will not ascend to be a head coach in this league. We are very focused in on it.”
Silver is spot-on, especially considering there are plenty of NBA coaches who never played at the NBA level or got past Division III college ball. Plus, there are no fundamental differences between the WNBA and NBA — most of the discrepancies in the rules affect the clocks and not the actual game — so there’s a huge pool of women with playing experience.
San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammon, who’s also a six-time WNBA All-Star, seems poised to become the first, as she’s enjoyed plenty of success in three seasons under Gregg Popovich.
Thumbnail photo via Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports Images
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