NBA Star Comes Out With Spirited Defense Of Female Coaches In The Game

David Hookstead | Reporter

NBA star Pau Gasol is all for female coaches in the NBA, and he made that crystal clear with a recent article in The Player’s Tribune.

Gasol, who plays for the San Antonio Spurs, wrote the piece after it became clear that his team’s assistant and WNBA legend Becky Hammon was very much in the mix to become an NBA head coach.

He wrote in part:

The argument that I see most often is thankfully the one that’s easiest to disprove: It’s this idea that, at the absolute highest level of basketball, a woman isn’t capable of coaching men. “Yeah, female coaches are fine coaching women’s college basketball, or the WNBA,” the argument goes. “But the NBA? The NBA is different.”

First, I’ve just gotta tell you: If you’re making that argument to anyone who’s actually played any high-level basketball, you’re going to seem really ignorant. But I also have a simple response to it — which is that I’ve been in the NBA for 17 years. I’ve won two championships … I’ve played with some of the best players of this generation … and I’ve played under two of the sharpest minds in the history of sports, in Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich. And I’m telling you: Becky Hammon can coach. I’m not saying she can coach pretty well. I’m not saying she can coach enough to get by. I’m not saying she can coach almost at the level of the NBA’s male coaches. I’m saying: Becky Hammon can coach NBA basketball. Period.

See, this is what I’ve wanted to see from players in the league. Yes, it’s awesome that Gregg Popovich has vouched for her and hired her. That means more than enough to me, as a fan, to believe that she’s competent in her job. Make no mistake here. I absolutely do believe that Hammon can do the job, but like any situation of this magnitude, I need more than just one great reference.

You can tell a lot more about a person by the way they’re viewed by their subordinates than the way they are viewed by their bosses. Attitude is almost always a reflection of the leadership and culture that surrounds a person. It says a lot more to me if tons of players are coming out in support of Hammon than a bunch of higher-level people in the Spurs organization. (RELATED: DEBATE: CAN WOMEN COACH IN MEN’S PRO SPORTS?)

I’m not going to advocate that Hammon should get a head coaching job. I don’t know enough about her as a person. I believe in her basketball mind, but that’s only part of the equation. What I do know is that this is almost certainly going to happen. That in and of itself that’s pretty exciting already. We’ll just have to wait and see who makes history by putting her in charge and how she handles it.

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David Hookstead

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