“Smashing a Ceiling – and a Lot of Egos”

Michele A. Roberts was “recently named the first female leader of a major North American professional sports union, ending a long and sometimes contentious search” and stated after the announcement: “‘My past…is littered with the bones of men who were foolish enough to think I was someone they could sleep on’.” Wow!

The excerpts above are taken from the Globe and Mail, who published “Smashing a Ceiling – and a Lot of Egos” written by Andrew Keh of the New York Times News Service, about her historic appointment as head of the NBA’s players union, which you can read here. It’s a great profile piece.

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Canada Basketball

Over the last few months, there’s been so much focus, and varying opinions, about Canadian basketball players. This attention has culminated around the likes of Anthony Bennett and, more recently, Andrew Wiggins. (For a refresher about Bennett,click here, and Wiggins, click here).

Other Canadians that have garnered some media buzz are Tyler Ennis (drafted by the Phoenix Suns), Kelly Olynyk (plays for the Boston Celtics), and Tristan Thompson (plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers). And of course there’s Steve Nash, 2 time NBA MVP, and current General Manager of the Senior Men’s Canadian National Basketball Team, who is one of the most famous and successful Canadian basketball players ever.

Where is the attention for Canadian women basketball players in all of this? On the fringes.

It was recently announced that Canada Basketball will be hosting the 2015 FIBA (Fédération Internationale de Basketball) Americas Championship for Women. The tournament will be played in Edmonton and will determine who qualifies for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Unfamiliar with our Senior Women’s National Basketball Team roster? Check them out here, which can be followed up with Doug Smith’s blog, Toronto Star’s veteran sportswriter, who comments that “the fact the FIBA Americas 2015 Olympic women’s qualifier is going to be in Edmonton really is big news”. Indeed, exciting stuff.

 

Natalie Nakase’s Quest to Coach in the NBA

“Meet the NBA’s first female coach. Well, not yet, but that’s at least what Natalie Nakase has in mind. The question is, when will the league be ready?” Fantastic profile of Natalie Nakase by Kate Fagan for espnW: http://espn.go.com/espn/eticket/story?page=nakase. Here’s a taste:

“In September, Nakase began a yearlong internship with the Los Angeles Clippers. She works for the team’s video coordinator, in the same kind of NBA entry-level position once held by Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown and Portland Trail Blazers assistant Kaleb Canales. (There has been only one woman in NBA history to work as a video coordinator: Trish McGhee, who was laid off by the Memphis Grizzlies because of the lockout of 2011.)

The job requires a continuous stream of caffeine and an inexplicable passion for X’s and O’s. Nakase loves it. Even though she is overqualified for the position, she feels grateful to have it — to have pried open the NBA door and stuck her foot in the gap.

The NBA possesses more of a herdlike mentality than it cares to admit. Just look at the analytics revolution that is sweeping the league. A few teams — the Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder — had success making decisions based on new statistical formulas, and the rest are now scurrying to catch up, hiring their own numbers guys. Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey says all NBA teams want to be ahead of the curve, but few can afford the risk. “It’s always easier when you have one example to point to, so when you take that idea to your owner, you can say, ‘See, it worked here.’ Nobody wants to be the first.”

This mentality is one reason women aren’t being hired as NBA coaches — because no team has done it yet. The league loves to recycle, with teams routinely installing coaches and general managers who’ve been hired and fired multiple times. But, as Morey puts it, “I find it hard to believe that all of the best and smartest thinkers in basketball just happen to share the same chromosome.”

Nakase is hoping others will see it the way Morey does.”