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What Lindsay Gottlieb hire means for women coaches, the NBA and Cal (USA)

The door to women coaching in men’s basketball has been slowly cracking open the past few years, thanks to the NBA. Wednesday’s news that Cal Bears coach Lindsay Gottlieb is joining the Cleveland Cavaliers as an assistant moved the needle even more.

It’s one thing for those who have played or coached in the WNBA — such as Becky Hammon, Jenny Boucek, Kristi Toliver, Sue Bird and Swin Cash — to get opportunities on the professional men’s side; it can be easier for them to build those connections. But it’s something different for a women’s college coach to get this call, and this hire has a far-reaching impact.

Gottlieb — who will sign a four-year contract with the Cavs and is the first women’s collegiate head coach recruited to an NBA staff — gave credit to commissioner Adam Silver, echoing the sentiments of other women who have found coaching and front-office employment in the NBA. Silver has been vocal about wanting to see more women hired for various NBA jobs, including coaching, administration and officiating.

Still, an organization isn’t going to make a hire just to please the commissioner. The Cavs’ brass saw in Gottlieb someone with an expansive knowledge of basketball, a lot of desire to help players reach their potential and a buoyant personality. She clicked with them, and vice versa.

Realistically, the NBA and men’s college basketball have not, until recently, even considered women part of the talent pool for coaches (or front-office personnel on the pro side), save some rare exceptions. This is different from women’s college hoops and the WNBA, which both have always looked to a talent pool of women and men.



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