First it was female referees, and a few months ago the San Antonio Spurs hired former WNBA player Becky Hammon to serve as the NBA's first full-time assistant coach. Some regarded it as a stunt, while others recognized the move for what it was - hiring a capable candidate with a good resume.
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle believes the Mavs "have" the NBA's next female assistant coach - Jenny Boucek. She is currently working with the Mavs in training camp, and plans to be with the team for one month; her full-time job is as head coach of the WNBA's Seattle Storm. Both Boucek and Carlisle played at Virginia, although their timing was more than a decade apart.
"She will be the next NBA assistant coach. She is the most qualified," Carlisle said. "Everybody is looking for the best people, why should it matter if they are male or female?
If Derek Fisher is qualified to be a head coach straight from his playing days, or Jason Kidd, there is no reason Becky Hammon or Boucek can't be an NBA assistant right away.
"I applaud them for it. It's important that people, and I talked to (Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) about this, this is important that people know this is not on a whim," Carlisle said. "She was with them all last year, sat in meetings and Pop' thought she could add something. It's important to note she earned the position and that she was qualified."
The question/concern is that will a male in the macho world of big-time sports listen to a female?
"Yeah, I do," Carlisle said.
For years the thought was the former Tennessee Lady Vols women's basketball coach Pat Summitt was the one female coach every male would listen to and respect. Pat could be that intimidating, and could scare anybody. Today, the field is bigger, and the ears are more receptive to a variety of voices.
"Nancy Lieberman coached a men's D-League team to a playoff berth. She's the first woman to ever coach a men's professional team," Carlisle said. "They were a team that got into the playoffs and she did a helluva job."
It may be a while before an NBA team ever hires a woman as a head coach, but it's a copy-cat league, and if the Spurs are doing it, someone else will, too.