More barriers smashed.
It’s not a new discussion, but it has become a popular one again lately due to Lindsay Gibbs’ article on Muffet McGraw and McGraw’s subsequent comments. Female coaches hold far fewer positions than they used to in the women’s game, but they aren’t being hired in similar numbers in the men’s game.
Small progress was made on April 8, though, as the number of women coaching in the men’s game grew by one. The Philadelphia 76ers hired Lindsey Harding as their first female assistant coach.
The former Duke and Phoenix Mercury star was promoted to player development coach from her position as a scout. The new position makes her the seventh female coach in the history of the NBA.
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Harding is a former Naismith Player of the Year award winner who was taken No. 1 overall by the Mercury in the 2007 draft. Her nine-year career included stops with five other teams before she returned to the Mercury, eventually retiring in 2016.
Harding dipped her toes into coaching before she retired from her playing career, starting the way many female NBA coaches do — in the NBA Summer League or the various incarnations of the NBA developmental league. In 2015, she was an assistant coach for the Toronto Raptors during the NBA Summer League.
After retiring from playing, Harding was hired as a pro scout by the Sixers’ GM, Elton Brand. Her fellow Duke alum brought her aboard in August 2018. Less than a year later, she has moved up to player development.
Brand told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he believes her future is bright.
"“After we interviewed her this summer, everyone I spoke to about her said how driven she was and that her knowledge of the game was impeccable,” said Sixers general manager Elton Brand. He expects Harding to head her own team sooner than later: “Whether that’s the NBA, or a collegiate program — I don’t think she’ll be at the player-development level for very long.”"
Harding joins Becky Hammon, Nancy Lieberman, Kristi Toliver, Natalie Nakase, Nicki Gross, Jenny Boucek and Chasity Melvin as current or former coaches in men’s professional basketball.
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