Thursday, July 23, 2015

A woman's place

The universe may implode today, and if it does you can shake your fist and curse the Blob. That's because it will be my fault.

I always said the Ice Capades would play Hell if I ever agreed with Colin Cowherd, ESPN's outgoing radio blowhole (he's leaving to do ... I don't know, something). But yesterday I was dialing through the channels on my car radio, and up popped Cowherd.

He was talking about Becky Hammon, who made history last year when the San Antonio Spurs made her the NBA's first full-time woman assistant coach. Now she's done it again by coaching the Spurs' summer league team to the summer-league title.

(I know. You didn't know there was such a thing as a summer league title. Neither did I. But there is. They've got their own trophy and everything).

Anyway ... I tuned in just in time to hear Cowherd scoff at the notion that a woman couldn't be an NBA coach, because she was never an NBA player or the players wouldn't respect her or whatever.
Said he didn't recall much about Spurs' coach Gregg Popovich's sterling playing career. (He didn't have one). Suggested you ask LeBron James how much he respects David Blatt. (He clearly doesn't, or at least Blatt defers to LeBron on all matters).

 Against my will, I found myself nodding along.

Because, yes, those are excellent points. That old saw about a successful coach having also to have been a player has been dull as dishwater for a long time. In fact, conventional wisdom now is that coaches who actually amounted to something as players generally fail. There are numerous examples, and untold examples (Popovich foremost among them) of successful coaches who never played a lick.

And here's the thing: Hammon was a successful player, for a long time, in the WNBA.  And the Spurs, by all accounts, do respect her. If a David Blatt can succeed coming out of the wilderness of overseas hoops, or a Brad Stevens can do it coming from Butler, why is it so outrageous to suggest Hammon could competently steer an NBA team because she came out of the WNBA?

This is, after all, modern times, whether you like that or not.  Even NBA commissioner Adam Silver says so.

 And so: You go, girl.

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