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Dawn Staley, the legendary women’s basketball player and coach, says she knows she can lead an NBA team and believes her time to shine is on the horizon.
In an interview with The New York Times, Staley, 51, a Hall of Famer who is also head coach of the U.S. Women’s Olympic team, mentioned how there are many women capable of getting the job done, herself included, as the several teams are seriously considering becoming the first to pick a woman as head coach.
“I come with a lot of credentials,” said Staley, who also coaches the University of South Carolina women’s basketball team. “I surely have the confidence. I surely can stand in front of men and lead them. First-team All-Stars. MVPs. I’m OK with that.”
Having played six years in the WNBA for the Charlotte Sting and Houston Comets, Staley does mention her lack of NBA experience, saying, “I haven’t coached in the league. But you know what? I’m a quick learn. I’m a quick learn.”
For a woman to lead an NBA team, it would be major for sports across the board. But despite the historic moment it would be, there will be doubters, as Staley acknowledges.
“A lot of people would be out there, just waiting for you to make a mistake, waiting for you to be wrong,” she said. “There’s a whole dynamic that men, white or Black, just don’t have to think about. It’s a female thing. The expectation will be so much greater than the male coach. So much greater.”
Staley does believe this move can happen, but that’s not her end goal: she envisions herself as a leader, preparing women for the big stage, “so our WNBA can be around for another 25 years.”
Several teams in the NBA are currently considering women for their top jobs.
Becky Hammon spent several years as Gregg Popovich’s assistant with the San Antonio Spurs and is a top candidate for the Portland Trailblazers’ head coach position. Current head coach of Duke University’s Women’s basketball team, Kara Lawson, is a prime candidate to become head coach for the Boston Celtics. Lawson earned her place as an assistant coach for the Celtics a few years ago.
The WNBA faces its own struggle for women representation as coaches, with the 12-team league only having five women head coaches.
Still, what Staley’s has to offer in her ability to lead an NBA team is impressive. At South Carolina, she led her team to three Women’s Final Fours and a 2017 national title. WIth that resume, she is now at the brink of taking her career in a new direction that would allow her to be responsible for the success of male pro basketball players.
“It would be huge,” Staley said. “We just need the right situation.”
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