In the wake of a New Yorker article about San Antonio Spurs lead assistant Becky Hammon, who is assumed to be the coach-in-waiting for when Gregg Popovich retires, a question that should be asked is why aren't there more women who have been considered for head coaching jobs of men's teams.
As women's basketball expert Howard Megdal wrote on the Nylon Calculus web site: "Men can coach in the NBA. They can coach other men in college. They can coach women's college teams, and they can coach WNBA teams. Women don't get in the room to interview for the NBA positions, nor the men's college jobs. Not at the head coaching level, and very infrequently at the collegiate level, either. Few are even getting assistant gigs. All of this serves to make the funnel vastly smaller for the talented basketball minds who are women."
He pointed out that former Seattle Storm head coach Jenny Boucek was hired as an assistant by Sacramento last year and that Hammon turned down a chance to be the men's head coach at Colorado State.
"When 10 other teams have a Becky Hammon, that will tell me the culture is changing," Popovich was quoted as saying in the post by Megdal, who went on to create a list of candidates, including starting with one suggested by Rebecca Lobo.
Megdal wrote: "The ESPN analyst and Basketball Hall of Famer chose a popular pick among those surveyed: Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve. ... Indeed, it defies all logic that no NBA team has ever reached out to Reeve, who has led the Minnesota Lynx to four WNBA titles and two other trips to the WNBA Finals over the past seven years. Whether she'd consider it is another matter, of course. ... (Lobo's list) was too long to name, she said, and dependent on 'who actually WANTS TO' coach in the NBA."
It's a good question. And here's another: Would Reeve, despite her accomplishments in the WNBA, need to take an assistant coaching job in the NBA, or would an NBA or major college men's team recognize that the skills she's brought to the Lynx would transfer to men's basketball? That's probably more of a culture question than a skills question.
The NBA has an "Assistant Coaches Program" designed to help former players make the transition to coaching. Whatever your thoughts on whether Reeve would need to be an NBA assistant first, it would make sense for the league to expand that program to include women. (It seems that would only not make sense to those who would feel threatened by having the pool of potential assistants expanded. But that's another cultural issue, right?)
Also, if you're going to argue whether it should happen, go find a cave for that discussion, OK?.
Let's end this by going back to Reeve, who received this endorsement from Lobo: "She's smart, knows hoops and has the right personality," Lobo said. "And she's perfected the in-game interview blowoff."
And you can see what Lobo is talking about here. (The audio is lousy, but you'll get the idea.)