The subject pops up at least every few months: When will the NBA have its first female coach?
For years now, former WNBA star Becky Hammon has been at the forefront when it comes to “who” should take on this role first. She has worked as an assistant for Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs since 2014 and last year became the first woman to work as an interim head coach.
But all she gets in a head coach search is “almost here.”
Cheryl Reeve, general manager and coach of the Minnesota Lynx, doesn’t see that changing anytime soon, calling the exercise of appointing a woman she says she should coach in the NBA a “waste of time” because “the men are not going to allow it “.
“This D, E, and I (diversity, equity and inclusion) company that the NBA is in right now is just a front,” Reeve said on “The Cheryl Reeve Show” by the Talk North Podcast Network.
Reeve calls NBA diversity focus as “window dressing”
Team USA’s new head coach Reeve and stars of Lynx Aerial Powers and Layshia Clarendon chatted with Jim Souhan in a live show to support a Winter Wear Drive in the Minneapolis area. The conversation started with the coaching vacancies in the WNBA and whether Lynx Assistants might be a good fit.
Souhan asked who the group believes should have the honor of the NBA’s first female coach. Reeve – who should be in the NBA coaching conversation given his success as a head coach – took a broader view.
“I’m going to start off by saying it’s a waste of time doing it because the men aren’t going to allow it. It’s the one place women don’t lead. And so we go through this exercise every offseason. now, “Oh, Becky [Hammon] got an interview. … I’ve talked to a lot of men in the NBA, how they talk about women and coaches. This D, E, and I (diversity, equity and inclusion) company that the NBA finds itself in right now is just a facade. And we have to get to a point where we use our influence and power and we start to decline these things and maybe even quit the NBA until we find someone in that leadership position in the next few years. . “
“Someone like [Golden State Warriors head coach] Steve Kerr, who is so outspoken about this, he knows that doesn’t happen. And I’ve seen people say, “Well, it’s hard to take a leap of faith. »An act of faith for what? Do you know how many horrible coaches train in the NBA? Are you going to tell me we can’t be this horrible? Give us an opportunity. And pay us $ 5 million to do it.
Reeve, who led the Lynx to four championships in seven years, noted that she could win as many games in one season as some former NBA coaches won in bad seasons. Souhan reiterated that the bar is set so high for women, but dropped for men who might be in the right place at the right time.
Reeve is a three-time WNBA Coach of the Year and 2019 WNBA Executive of the Year. She has also won two WNBA titles as an Assistant Coach.
Reeve: It’s not the players, it’s the front offices
Reeve said it’s not the players who are against the women who coach, but the front offices which are largely controlled by the men.
“These are really men’s sports,” Reeve said. “It’s the mentality of men’s sports that what they do is so hard a woman couldn’t do it. And that’s the only place we don’t lead. And once we do, do. Be careful, because a lot of men will no longer be qualified when we have some of these women there.
“And it’s not the players by the way. It’s not the players, it’s the management positions.”
Many players have expressed their support for the women’s coaches and Hammon in particular. Basketball is basketball regardless of the gender on the court, and as long as a coach knows their stuff it won’t matter to a player who can be successful with it.
Culture will change with women at the helm
Clarendon, later in the interview which deserves a full listen, added that when women start coaching in the NBA, the culture will improve within teams.
“We actually work very well and collaboratively,” Clarendon, vice president of the players’ union, said on the show. “People always ask me this, what’s the difference? Why can’t we [the] guys [be] as well? Well, they don’t have Cheryl, to begin with. And second, they don’t build this culture from the top down.
“I think that’s a misnomer about women. It’s a myth that we are small and small and we fight for leftovers. When in reality we are really smart and collective and I think we are. ‘part of our emotional capacity makes us more aware. Being more in touch with it and being more people. Just that capacity makes you better leaders. “
Look no further than the ability of WNBA player associations to come together on social justice issues and enter the 2021 season with a 99% vaccination rate. And that’s an area where NBA teams would do well to improve after incidents around the league.
The NBA Diversity Bulletin
The NBA is one of the leagues that have favored diversity in hiring practices.
The league received an A for racial hiring practices and a B for overall gender hiring practices, according to the 2021 NBA Race and Gender Report from the Institute for Diversity and the Ethics in Sport (TIDES) from the University of Central Florida.
But the hiring level for team vice presidents is a C- with 27.8% of positions held by women (although this is an increase from 2020) and 37.9% of women in team leadership positions. The rating for the C-Suite is a D + (26.4%) and, more important for this topic, it received an F for Chairs / CEOs and Team Governors. There has never been a female head coach or general manager in the NBA.