NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, is fighting for more gender diversity in the league he has overseen since 2014. He wants to see more women in the NBA. It’s an area where “I’ve acknowledged that I’m not sure how it remained so male-dominated for so long,” he’s stated. Silver would like to see women make up half of all new referees, saying that there’s no physical reason why women can’t officiate in the NBA. There are five female officials in the NBA in 2020 and he wants that number to rise soon. “The goal is going forward, it should be roughly 50-50 of new officials entering in the league,” he stated.
Silver is calling for more women coaches as well saying, “There’s no reason why women shouldn’t be coaching men’s basketball.” Further, Silver believes that there will someday be a female head coach in the NBA. Former decorated WNBA player, Becky Hammon, turned down the University of Florida’s women’s head coaching job in 2014 and became the first woman to be hired as a full-time assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs. By the 2018-2019 season, Hammon moved to the front row of coaches alongside head coach Gregg Popovich.
Silver’s focus on gender equality started in 2017 when he teamed up with Facebook chief operating officer and LeanIn.org founder Sheryl Sandberg. They launched a gender equality public awareness campaign with a PSA and videos featuring Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, New Orleans’ Jrue Holiday and Phoenix’s Devin Booker, talking about the important role men have to play in gender equality. Further, this campaign was an opportunity for fans to see how these players are advocating for women in a very caring and compassionate way.
Silver knows that there are obvious physical differences between women and men, but when it comes to officiating and coaching, there is absolutely no physical difference. “There is no physical litmus test to being a head coach in the league,” he says.
Silver is very focused on hiring more women in the NBA. What he needs now are more candidates and more women in the pipeline. Many people have asked about more women being head coaches in the NBA, but many ask, “Would it be possible for someone who hadn’t played in the NBA to be a head coach? So we have broken another barrier there,” he stated. The NBA started a training program to bring in women who are former players and some who simply just have a passion for the game. They are becoming a part of the personnel and are in the position to potentially get these jobs.
Women like Becky Hammon are leading the way, and when she interviewed for the Milwaukee Bucks’ head coaching job in 2018, it was the biggest sign yet that the league could soon have a female head coach.
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