San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon and Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach Natalie Nakase have been trailblazing a path for female representation in NBA coaching. Both have ample experience playing the game and have worked their way up through the coaching ranks. But despite their credentials, they have received criticism from many in the basketball community who do not believe they could coach the men’s game.
Becky Hammon became a trailblazer after becoming the first paid female assistant in the NBA. Now it’s time for more women to get a chance to break into the league (by @KellenBecoats) https://t.co/QdFfz4ynEa
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) November 29, 2018
SB Nation published an in-depth issue article on Tuesday, ‘The Glass Sideline,’ that highlights the struggle and journey of women coaching acceptance in men’s sports. In it, an anonymous veteran NBA coach was quoted speaking about how having a ‘hot woman’ coaching in the NBA would not bode well for the coach nor the players.
“You can’t have a hot woman in the NBA,” the veteran NBA coach said. “Guys will be trying to f— her every day.”
He backed this statement up by elaborating on his observations of the culture of misogyny and hypermasculinity amongst the players in the NBA.
Of the 2,600 coaches in men’s professional sports, only *six* are women.
It’s not about ability.
It’s about access.https://t.co/D7dV2csGR4
— SB Nation (@SBNation) November 28, 2018
“By and large the NBA is an incredibly sexist environment,” he said. “I listen to players talk about women. I have a daughter and it’s sometimes disturbing. But it’s nothing new. It hasn’t gotten worse over the years. In our society, there are men uncomfortable working under women and a handful of our players would have a problem with it.”
It is understandable that there may be a level of discomfort between these male athletes and female coaches simply due to the fact that most NBA players have played solely under male basketball coaches their entire upbringing. But that does not warrant the undermining of the value of a coach just because of the person’s gender. Some of the best coaches in the NBA have not played a minute in the league, including Miami Heat’s coach Erik Spoelstra, who began as the Heat’s video coordinator, and Boston Celtics’ coach Brad Stevens, who was a full-time Division I coach at the ripe age of 25 following a mediocre college career.
If the statements of this anonymous coach are true, then, unfortunately, there will have to be a significant change in the culture of the NBA community before female coaches can completely feel safe and respected in the male-dominated industry.