Blogtable: Who might be the NBA's first female head coach?
Each week, we ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day.
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Adam Silver believes the NBA will have its first female head coach sooner rather than later. Who will that be? Where will that be?
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David Aldridge: Obviously you think first of Becky Hammon. She clearly knows the NBA game from an X and O standpoint, and I’m sure these years on the Spurs’ bench has given a feel for the thought processes and peccadilloes of the NBA player. I have no doubt she could handle us ignoramuses in the media. It would be the Spursiest thing ever for San Antonio to have her succeed Gregg Popovich, and that’s the kind of organization and market that I think would best be suited for a first-time woman head coach to succeed. But I could see a Dawn Staley or a Tamika Catchings — someone universally respected and liked — making the jump in time to an NBA head coach job, too. A team like the Heat or Mavericks, with strong ownership and management, and a tradition of success, could handle such a momentous hire and thrive as well.
Steve Aschburner: Since San Antonio already has Becky Hammon on staff and Gregg Popovich is so progressive on these matters, I expect him to soon step down as Spurs head coach and flip his clipboard and marker to her. She is as qualified as any other candidate for this “first,” and the organization and Spurs fans are certain to accede to Pop’s wishes.
Fran Blinebury: Gregg Popovich has got to walk away some time and it sure would seem that he’s setting the stage for Becky Hammon to break the barrier in San Antonio. Is Hammond turning down the job at the University of Florida a hint?
Scott Howard-Cooper: “Sooner rather than later” could mean five or seven years. I don’t think it’s close to an actual talking point, which makes the Who and the Where speculation times 10. Obviously Becky Hammon and Nancy Lieberman have big head starts in credibility and experience, Lieberman because she has been a head coach in the D-League and Hammon because she has the special seal of approval of the Spurs. Natalie Nakase does a lot of good work with the Clippers, although without the same time on a bench. And there are some very skilled coaches in the college ranks who don’t have names that jump out to NBA fans but should be considered if a front office is ready to make the big move. Here’s what will happen sooner: A team will interview a woman for the head coaching job and either announce it or make sure the news is leaked. The Kings love selling themselves as cutting edge (even when they’re not). The Kings will interview Hammon at their next opening.
Shaun Powell: Look, I’m all for everything Adam Silver said. But there should be a pool of candidates first, and then, let’s talk. Right now that “pool” is Becky Hammon, and she’s still sitting behind the Spurs’ bench, not next to Popovich. There’s a pecking order in San Antonio, and I respect Pop for not rushing her along at the expense of the other Spurs assistants who’ve been there longer and would also like to be head coaches. When it happens, it happens.
John Schuhmann: The two females that are currently assistant coaches — Becky Hammon and Nancy Lieberman — would obviously be the most likely candidates, but what about Cheryl Reeve (winner of three WNBA championships with the Lynx)? The teams where Hammon and Lieberman are employed — San Antonio and Sacramento — are good guesses for where it will happen, but there are other teams smartly seeking diversity within their organizations, and they should all be looking for opportunities to put women into the coaching pipeline.
Sekou Smith: Adam Silver is spot on. I have no idea why that barrier has not been broken already. Becky Hammon already has a spot on the bench in San Antonio and if ever there was an organization and leadership group progressive enough to pull this off, it’s the Spurs and Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford. Hammon has the experience working with the Spurs, both during the regular season and in summer league, and would have no problem making the move to head coach. Honestly, I’m more concerned with the players being ready and accepting of this sort of groundbreaking move. It’s rare for women to coach men at any level (though no one ever seems to have a problem with men coaching women), so this would definitely be a jolt to the system. But it’s long overdue.
Ian Thomsen: It will be Becky Hammon. And because she’ll have Gregg Popovich advising and vouching for her, it won’t be a circus appointment in which she’ll be exploited for making history. She will earn a legitimate job with a respectable NBA franchise — as will her fellow Spurs assistant, the highly-respected Ettore Messina, another pioneer who sooner than later will become the first European born-and-trained head coach in the NBA.
Lang Whitaker: I mean, Becky Hammon certainly seems to have built a strong case for herself. And she just turned down a big-time college gig, so she clearly has her eyes set higher. So why not Hammon as the NBA’s first full-time female head coach? And as for where, what if she turned out to be the eventual successor to Gregg Popovich in San Antonio?
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