Last week, (Nov. 16, 2018) Denver Nuggets President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly announced Sue Bird to their front office staff as Basketball Operation Associate, making the NBA the only major sports organization with women staffers. Connelly spoke of Bird saying,
“We are very excited to have Sue join our organization. Her resume certainly speaks for itself and as a still active player she will offer an extremely unique perspective.”
If you’re unfamiliar with Sue Bird, let’s just say she’s nothing short of a WNBA legend.
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We have added Sue Bird to our front office as Basketball Operation Associate! #MileHighBasketball
She was the first overall pick by Seattle in the 2002 WNBA Draft, is an 11-time All-Star, and won three WNBA Championships. Bird was also a legend before the that too, winning two National Championships at the University of Connecticut. She will first woman to be working for the NBA while playing in the WNBA.
The move was not only great socially but was a smart basketball decision from an operational standpoint. It makes you wonder why, out of all the hires we seen across the sports spectrum, women aren’t hired more often?
Women love football; women love college hockey; women love basketball; you name it, women love sports. We know this more than we can confirm men’s love for women’s sports; in fact, men mock women’s athletics more than cheer it on.
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Despite these truths, men consistently serve as coaches for women’s teams in sports even though zero out of the approximately 123 head coaching positions in the four major men’s professional sports leagues: NFL (football), NBA (basketball), MLB (baseball) and NHL (hockey), are held by women.
That’s why it was monumental Gregg Popovich, hired Becky Hammon to be his assistant coach in 2014, making her be the first woman to coach in the league (and, for that matter, in the NFL, MLB, or NHL). After the hire, he appointed her to coach the Spurs’ team in the Las Vegas summer league, which she went on to win the league’s championship.
The question of whether women are “qualified” is not much of a question of all. In fact, she had a really good chance to break history becoming the first woman head coach of a major sports organization when she interviewed for the Milwaukee Bucks position this summer but lost out to Mike Budenholzer.
The advancement of women’s rights have been a major agenda at the forefront of our country and the Denver Nugget’s hiring Bird’s is a result for that.
This past weekend there were reports that the Browns were interested in interviewing former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for the job their head coaching position, which would be a major leap for both women and the league, but the news was later shot down by Brown’s general manager John Dorsey.
“I’m really excited to join the Denver Nuggets organization. I’m thankful for the opportunity and look forward to learning from some of the best,” said Bird.
Let’s hope other leagues follow the NBA path and we start seeing more women in leadership positions.