As much as people want to talk about this being a politically correct society, the reality is that people are different and continue to be afforded different opportunities based on things that shouldn't be a factor.
Coaching in male professional sports in the domain of primarily men.
It's incredibly hard for women to break into that niche.
You don't see a lot of women on the benches of Major League Baseball teams or on the sidelines on NFL Sundays (Or Mondays, or Thursdays).
Where you will see women though, more this year than in the past, is on an NBA bench.
The Spurs have hired Becky Hammon as the first female full-time assistant coach and the Clippers hired Natalie Nakase as an assistant video coordinator. Seattle Storm associate head coach Jenny Boucek, meanwhile is joining the Dallas Mavericks during training camp.
Why is it important?
It's important because, before now, women hadn't been afforded those opportunities. And there isn't a great reason why.
For the most part, it is exclusively men playing the game. But it's a ridiculous notion to think that any gender can't coach.
“The NBA dream is becoming blind to gender,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told the Boston Globe. “Women are becoming a real factor in hiring.”
The NBA, like other sports, is becoming more and more analytical. It's about match, situations and making the right decisions based upon what the coach is seeing.
The video department is becoming more and more important, which means Nakase – who hopes to someday become a head coach – is in a good place to learn on Doc Rivers' staff. Nakase is clear she wants to be the NBA's first female head coach.
According to ESPNW, there has only ever been one female NBA video coordinator, Trish McGhee of the Grizzlies.
For his part, Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey says that it only makes sense to have more women involved in NBA coaching.
"I find it hard to believe that all of the best and smartest thinkers in basketball just happen to share the same chromosome,” Morey told ESPNW.
What will it take?
NBA coaches have been around the game for awhile, so it will take coaches like Nakase, Hammon and Boucek getting opportunities, building upon those, and eventually getting the ultimate shot to build on what Hall of Famer Nancy Liebrman has started by becoming the NBDL's first female head coach in 2010.
“Change is not easy for people,” Boucek told the Dallas Morning News.
“Some people perceive there to be some risk to it. I think there's risk to anybody you hire, regardless of gender. That's why you do your homework and you get to know people and get to know how qualified they are and what their personality is and how they work with staff members and what they have to offer players.”
Part of that experience comes from coaching clinics, like the annual NBA coach/GM clinic in Chicago in September. The Boston Globe noted that the clinic was limited to 90 invites and, for the first time, more females than Lieberman were invited with Hammon, Boucek and Nakase also there along with Sparks guard Nancy Harding, who hopes to get into NBA coaching after she retires.
“It's the right thing,” Carlisle said. “Forget about trends and things like that. If women are serious and quailified and committed, they deserve a chance.”
Boucek is obviously excited about that chance.
“It's just an intensive learning opportunity,” Boucek said. “I couldn't be more grateful. I don't want to be a copycat coach. I want to know the how and whys, and I think you have to study something over time and see it evolve to get a deep understanding.”
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