- Since Adam Silver took over as Commissioner of the NBA in 2014, the league has taken on a new reputation as a progressive organization that is willing to embrace social change.
- In a conversation with MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle, Silver leaned into that reputation and expressed his hopes that the NBA would become the first major professional men’s sports league to employ a female head coach.
- Silver named San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon, Washington Mystics guard and Washington Wizards player development assistant Kristi Toliver, and Seattle Storm star and newly-appointed Denver Nuggets basketball operation associate Sue Bird as likely candidates to break the NBA’s glass ceiling.
Since Adam Silver took over as commissioner of the NBA in 2014, the league has embraced its new reputation as a progressive organization.
In direct opposition to the NFL, the NBA has supported its athletes as they use their platforms to promote social change. Silver has also made multiple decisions that have made it clear that the league will not tolerate hate of any kind, including barring former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling from the league after his racist comments and actions and relocating the 2017 All-Star game from Charlotte, North Carolina in light of the state’s anti-LGBTQ legislation.
But even given all of these actions geared towards pushing the league into the future, the NBA is still hoping to overcome one significant hurdle in the realm of diversity.
In the NBA’s 72-year history, there has never been a single female head coach at the helm of any of the league’s 30 teams. But according to Silver, all of that could change soon.
Silver spoke to MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle at the Economic Club of New York on Tuesday about his expectation that the NBA will have a woman head coach soon. According to Kevin Draper of the New York Times, Silver hopes that the NBA will become the first major professional men’s sports league in the United States to employ a female head coach.
“We are very focused on a woman being a head coach in our league,” Silver said, per the New York Times. “I am very confident it is going to happen at some point.”
Silver named San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon, Washington Mystics guard and Washington Wizards player development assistant Kristi Toliver, and Seattle Storm star and newly-appointed Denver Nuggets basketball operation associate Sue Bird as likely candidates to break the NBA’s glass ceiling.
Former WNBA stars Lindsey Harding and Jenny Boucek also currently hold positions with NBA franchises and could advance through the ranks in the coming years.
Back in March of 2017, Silver told ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk that he hopes a female ascends to the helm of one of the NBA’s teams “sooner rather than later.” In that same interview, Silver addressed the lack of gender diversity among the league’s officiants.
“It would be my goal as we look to increase that pool of officials that we recruit equally from pools of potential women as we do from men,” Silver told Youngmisuk. “We will be looking very hard at dramatically increasing the representation of women in our officiating ranks.”
He has already begun to make good on that promise. The league recently promoted two female referees to full-time positions, making them the fourth and fifth women to ever officiate in the NBA. Now it appears Silver will focus his attention on the lack of female representation in coaching.
“When it comes to coaching, when there is absolutely no physical requirement, when it is not a function of how high you can jump or how strong you are, there is no physical litmus test to being a head coach in the league, there is absolutely no reason why a woman will not ascend to be a head coach in this league,” he told Youngmisuk. “We are very focused in on it.”