NBA front offices and coaching staffs are predominantly male. But that doesn’t mean women aren’t welcome.
Teams are saying a person does not have to be a man to hold these jobs. You don’t have to be a man to evaluate, coach, and develop NBA players or make basketball-related decisions for an NBA team.
If you haven't been paying attention, the league and teams have adopted that philosophy.
On Monday, the Indiana Pacers announced they hired Kelly Krauskopf as their assistant general manager, making her one of the highest-ranking females on a team's basketball operations staff.
And bringing us one step closer to a woman being hired as a general manager or coach.
The NBA isn’t perfect. No professional sports league is. But the NBA has been – and remains – a progressive league on matters of race, gender, inclusion and equality.
The league and its teams should be commended for their progress in hiring women in basketball-related jobs in the front office and on the coaching staff.
Krauskopf's hire is a continuation of what has been happening in the league over the past several years and highlighted recently with San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon’s promotion to front of bench coach, Sue Bird’s hiring as a Denver Nuggets basketball operations assistant and Kristi Tolliver’s hiring as a Washington Wizards player development assistant coach.
Those are well-known hires, but NBA teams have women in prominent basketball jobs throughout the league, including:
- Teresa Resch is the Toronto Raptors’ vice president of basketball operations and player development.
- Becky Bonner is the Orlando Magic’s director of player development and quality control.
- Lindsey Harding is a scout for the Philadelphia 76ers.
- Natalie Nakase is a player development coach for the Los Angeles Clippers after spending last season as G-League assistant coach for the Agua Caliente Clippers.
- Michelle Leftwich is the Atlanta Hawks’ vice president of salary cap administration.
Krauskopf, a veteran NBA and WNBA employee, is just the latest. She spent the previous 19 seasons with the WNBA's Indiana Fever, where she held several top roles, including president and general manager.
In her new role, she will work with president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard, general manager Chad Buchanan and senior vice president of basketball operations Peter Dinwiddie.
“My past experience has shown me that building winning teams and elite level culture is not based on gender – it is based on people and processes,” she said in a statement.
Even though girls and women have been told for decades that they can be anything they want, this news still is important because it’s rare that a woman holds such a significant role in basketball operations.
And there will be more firsts: the first female GM and first female head coach of an NBA team and maybe someday the first female deputy commissioner.
And when that happens, it shouldn't come as a surprise, but instead will be expected.
Follow Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt
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