It could be nothing more than bored sportswriters looking for clicks, but there is a bit of a buzz floating about that the Boston Celtics are seriously contemplating offering their recently vacated head coach position to San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon. This would make Hammon the first woman head coach in a major men’s sporting league, although I should probably ask forgiveness for assuming the gender identity of all involved.
Hammon has an accomplished record both on the court and as a coach. She definitely has a fan in Boston’s Brad Stevens, who was the team’s head coach this year yet immediately upon the Celtics being ousted from the playoffs by the Brooklyn Nets in five games moved upstairs to assume the role as head of basketball operations, taking over from the retiring Danny Ainge. This led to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith having an on-camera eruption over yet another NBA executive position being filled by a white guy that even by his volatile standards was near nuclear. One wonders how Smith and company would react to a gay white woman coming in as a NBA coach. Wrong minorities, perhaps?
There are multiple angles to consider when mulling over the possibility of Hammon taking over the Celtics. First off, the Celtics are a storied franchise with seventeen championships to their credit. This is the team of legends: Bill Russell. John Havlicek. Larry Bird. And many, many more. This is also the franchise of legendary coach Red Auerbach. To be Boston’s head coach brings on an entirely different set of goals to live up to than, say, being the coach of the Sacramento Kings.
Another aspect is the Celtics tradition of firsts. In 1964 Boston was the first NBA team with an all-black starting lineup. In 1966, Auerbach stepped away from coaching the team and in his place inserted Russell as player/coach, making the Celtics the first team in the four major sports with a black coach. Granted, these events were well over fifty years ago. This duly noted, it is impossible to not believe one and all in the Celtics organization are aware of franchise
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