Over the last few years, US Professional sports have opened its doors to female coaches, and none more so than the NBA – the men’s national professional basketball league.
2012 saw Natalie Nakase take on an internship as Video Analyst for the L.A. Clippers and in 2014 Becky Hammon who was hired by San Antonio Spurs as Assistant to Greg Popovich.
What started as a very slow trickle in the league, has now become a river. This off-season alone saw 6 new female coaches hired.
Thanks to the NBA website, we can share with you the short bio’s of all 11 coaches currently in the league:
Jenny Boucek, Dallas Mavericks
A career-ending back injury limited Jenny Boucek to just one season professional season in the WNBA (1997) after which she immediately transitioned to coaching.
Beginning in 1999, Boucek has over 18 years of coaching experience in the WNBA (four as a head coach). As an assistant, she was a member of two WNBA Championships with the Seattle Storm (2004, 2010).
In the NBA, she was first hired as the player development coach by the Sacramento Kings for the 2017-18 season, becoming the third woman assistant coach in NBA history. A year later, in the offseason of 2018, she was announced as the assistant coach of the Mavericks.
Brittni Donaldson, Toronto Raptors
Donaldson was promoted to the Raptors coaching staff after spending the last two seasons with the franchise as a data analyst.
A native of Iowa where she played collegiatel at the University of Northern Iowa from 2011 to 2015, the 26-year-old Donaldson is now the youngest assistant coach – male or female – in the NBA.
Lindsay Gottlieb, Cleveland Cavaliers
Lindsay Gottlieb was hired as an assistant coach on a four-year contract as part of new head coach John Beilein’s staff.
She has nearly two decades of coaching experience, including two head coaching stints at the University of California at Santa Barbara (2008-11) and the University of California (2011-19).
During her head coach stints, she did receive two recognitions – Big West Coach of the Year (2009) and Pac-12 Coach of the Year (2012). As a head coach, she also had three championships to her name – 2 x Big West Championship (2009,11) and Pac-12 regular-season championship (2013).
Becky Hammon, San Antonio Spurs
After a very accomplished 15-year WNBA career, Becky Hammon joined the Spurs as an assistant coach in the offseason of 2014. That made her the second female assistant coach in NBA history and the first full-time assistant coach.
A year in, she was selected as the coach of the Spurs’ Summer League squad, the first time a woman was a head coach in that league. She went on to lead the squad to the 2015 Las Vegas Summer League Championship.
At the 2016 All-Star Game, she became the first woman to be a part of an All-Star coaching staff.
During her WNBA career, Hammon received six All-Star selections and four All-WNBA selections (2 First Team, 2 Second Team). She was the assists leader in 2007 and was voted to the WNBA’s Top 15 players of all-time (2011) and the Top 20@20 in 2016.
Lindsey Harding, Philadelphia 76ers
Lindsey Harding was hired by the Philadelphia 76ers as a scout prior to the 2018-19 season and at the end of the season, the franchise promoted her to the position of an assistant coach.
A 5-year WNBA veteran, Harding had a spectacular 2007, the final year of her college career at Duke and her rookie season in the NBA.
In 2007, she received the Naismith College Player of the Year Award, the WBCA Defensive Player of the Year, the Nancy Lieberman Award, the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award, ACC Player of the Year, and a WNBA All-Rookie selection.
Niele Ivey, Memphis Grizzlies
Ivey, the former associate head coach at Notre Dame, was added to the staff in Memphis this offseason.
Ivey spent 12 years at Notre Dame as an assistant coach after also playing there for four years. She was either a player or coach for all nine of the school’s Final Four appearances.
Kara Lawson, Boston Celtics
Lawson was added to the Celtics’ coaching staff this offseason after previously serving as a commentator with ESN and TV analyst wth the Washington Wizards.
The former point guard played 12 seasons in the WNBA, winning a championship in 2005 and making the All-Star team in 2007 as a member of the Sacramento Monarchs.
Natalie Nakase, LA Clippers
Natalie Nakase joined the Clippers organisation in 2012 and got promoted to the position of an assistant coach in the offseason of 2018 after a year as an assistant coach of the Agua Caliente Clippers, the D-League affiliate of the LA Clippers.
In 2012, she began a year-long internship under the franchise’s video coordinator. A couple of years later, she became the team’s video coordinator and at the 2014 Las Vegas Summer League, she was an assistant coach for the Clippers team.
Kristi Toliver, Washington Wizards
Kristi Toliver was hired as a full-time assistant with the Washington Wizards before the 2018-19 season.
It must be noted that unlike the other members on this list, Toliver is still active in the WNBA, representing the Washington Mystics.
An eight-year WNBA veteran, she was a member of the Los Angeles Sparks that clinched the WNBA Championship in 2016. A two-time All-Star (2013, 2018), she was named the WNBA Most Improved Player in 2012 and also received an All-WNBA Second Team selection that year.
Karen Stack Umlauf, Chicago Bulls
Karen Stack Umlauf has spent nearly three decades in administrative roles with the Bulls’ organisation but last year, she was named an assistant coach of the team.
She has spent the last year as an assistant while also playing her role as the director of team operations and has held her position as an assistant on the staff for new head coach Jim Boylen.
Teresa Weatherspoon, New Orleans Pelicans
Weatherspoon is a WNBA legend as she starred for the New York Liberty beginning in 1997, the first year of the league’s existence. One of the best point guards in league history, Weatherspoon ranks in WNBA history in assists per game and guided her teams to the playoffs in six of her eight seasons.
Weatherspoon made five All-Star teams and won back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year awards in 1997 and 1998.