The Cleveland Cavaliers made some serious shockwaves with their surprise hire of John Beilein, stealing him away from a decade’s worth of program-building at Michigan to lead their team into a new era. On Wednesday, they continued their run of previously unforeseen hires; as Adrian Wojnarowski reports the team hired University of California-Berkley head coach Lindsay Gottlieb to join Beilein as an assistant coach.
As Wojnarowski notes, this is a landmark appointment for not only the NBA, but for women in coaching in general. Gottlieb is one of the top coaches at the collegiate level, racking up a 235-128 record in 10 years of head coaching, including a 179-89 record as head coach at Cal. She was Pac-12 Coach of the Year in 2012 while leading Cal to their first Final Four appearance and first Pac-12 championship.
Gottlieb will join Becky Hammon (Spurs) and Jenny Boucek (Mavericks) as the only female coaches in the NBA. She’s also the first women’s collegiate head coach to be tapped for an NBA position, which is a huge precedent for teams looking for the next big thing in the NCAA. This will open the door to what will hopefully be many hires in the future.
It’s also a big step for women coaching in professional men’s leagues in general. The NFL and NHL have slowly been making inroads in that department, while MLB lags behind. The NBA has more female coaches than any other major league, so they’re the trailblazers here. The more quality coaches like Gottlieb that end up with an NBA team, the more likely other teams are to pursue a similar route. A big move for the Cavaliers, who got a great coach, and an even bigger one for the push towards equality in sports.