While Becky Hammon made history as the first female head coach in NBA Summer League competition, she was not the only women’s basketball star involved in coaching. Joining Hammon was two-time Summer Games competitor Nancy Lieberman, along with Lindsey Harding.
Of note, Lieberman once served on the coaching stint of the WNBA’s Detroit Shock. Known affectionately as Lady Magic, the Old Dominion legend also played in one game with the Shock, competing at 50 years young. The WNBA is a common trait among all three, as each has played on its hardcourt.
Serving on the Sacramento Kings’ coaching staff in Summer League play, it may be the springboard for greater opportunities to come for Lieberman. During the 2014-15 NBA regular season, Kings head coach George Karl had faced questions concerning the possibility of Lieberman joining his staff.
Karl had indicated interest in Lieberman as a candidate, should his coaching staff change in the summer. Declaring her a quality basketball person, such a potential hire would join Hammon as only the second woman to serve in a full-time capacity as an NBA female assistant coach. During the summer of 2014, Hammon was hired by San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.
In addition to experience with the Shock, Lieberman possesses a background in coaching men’s basketball. She became the first woman to coach a men’s pro team when she took the helm of the NBA Development League’s Texas Legends (affiliated with the Dallas Mavericks) in 2009. Currently, she works as a TV analyst for the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder. As a side note, she also played alongside men in the former United States Basketball League and was a member of the Washington Generals, who toured with the Harlem Globetrotters.
Working as a guest assistant with the Toronto Raptors at Summer League was Lindsey Harding. No stranger to the Raptors, she was in observance at the Toronto Raptors’ training camp in 2014.Held in very high regard, Harding earned praise from Raptors head coach Dwayne Casey.
Declaring that she has the potential to be a head coach in the NBA one day, Casey was very impressed with Harding’s knowledge and ability to communicate with players. It was also a skill that shone through in Summer League play as Hammon helped the Spurs gel into a championship unit.
Considering that Summer League play (and to a degree Development League play) is meant to cultivate talent and allow undrafted free agents and draft picks to showcase their talents, it is only fitting to allow coaches the same opportunity. In opening the doors of opportunity for accomplished and qualified WNBA talent such as Hammon, Harding and Lieberman, the NBA has once again set a standard, acknowledging the growing role and impact of women in sport.