By Charles Glover, Jr.
The San Antonio Spurs expanded the diversity trend in the National Basketball Association (NBA) when the team hired former WNBA player Becky Hammon to be an assistant coach coach. Hammon became the first woman to be employed full-time as an assistant coach in the NBA or any other major team sport. Hammon made it clear that she does not feel her gender played a role in her hiring.
“It’s never been about the woman thing, it’s been about hey, she’s got a great basketball mind. We think she’d be a great addition to our program,” she said at the news conference announcing her hiring on August 5, 2014.
This comes on the heels of the NBA Players Association (NBPA) selecting Michele Roberts to be their new executive director. Roberts, who is a renowned trial attorney, was named to her new position on July’ 29, 2014 ahead of 300 potential candidates. Roberts grew up a New York Knicks fan while being raised in that city. She rooted for the Washington D.C. team and worked for years in that city. Now Roberts has a new affiliation again extolling, “My new favorite team is the NBPA.”
These two new additions to the NBA family illustrate a more inclusive view towards women, yet there is still a long way to go to consider all opportunities equal. However, the NBA has taken more steps in allowing women to prove themselves in that league than in any of the other major team sports.
In 1997 the NBA hired Violet Palmer and Dee Kantner as referees amid plenty of opposition from some fans and players alike. Palmer is still a referee in the NBA and has done so for the WNBA as well. Palmer remains the lone female referee in major team sports and added another first to her resume when she refereed the 2014 NBA All-Star game.
What stands out even more than the opportunity to earn and prove in the NBA for these women is the authoritative positions they hold. None of these ladies hold a more powerful position than Jeanie Buss, part-owner and president of the Los Angeles Lakers. Buss recognizes the full scope of her position, sharing during an interview:
“I’m the boss, I am responsible ultimately for anything with the team and decisions that are made…I empower people that are in positions to do their jobs…But it’s up to them to make day-to-day decisions on how they operate their area of the business.”
Ultimately, these women provide plenty of ideas of new positions for women to strive towards and surpass. While there will continue to be a debate about women’s opportunities in male dominated fields, it is also time to appreciate the positions that women have earned through hard work and dedication.–OnPointPress.net–
Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.