LeBron James hasn’t had the most positive relationships with the panoply of head coaches he’s run through in his 15 NBA seasons. However, on Thursday James endorsed the idea of being coached by a woman if the opportunity presented itself, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.
“I mean, if she knows what she’s doing, we’ll love it,” James said. “I mean, listen, at the end of the day, basketball … it’s not about male or female. You know the game, you know the game.”
“If you know the game, then everybody is accepting of that,” James added. “It’s the same thing with players. You have different walks and shapes and lives of players, but if you can play, you can play. You always accept it. You can’t play, you can’t play. If you know the game, you’re always accepted. If you don’t know the game, it’s all about your knowledge of the game. it shouldn’t matter if you’re a male or a female.”
Of course, everyone in the sports world hasn’t been as progressive as James. Last year, former WFAN radio host Mike Francesca went on Cro-Magnon polemic against the idea of Becky Hammon, or any women in general, as the professional coach of a men’s team.
The knowledge of the game part James referenced is important though, because there’s a contingent of sports aficionados, including Fransesca, who believe having played the game at high level is an essential aspect of the resume for any potential head coach, despite the litany of NBA coaches who’ve never played professionally that tell a contradicting story. That argument is especially weak in the NBA, which has subsidized an entire professional basketball league for women since 1997.
Most importantly, support from the most influential basketball player of this decade is invaluable. Not that we should expect anything less from James. As first vice president of the National Basketball Players Association, James has worked closely with Michelle Roberts, the first female to head a major professional sports union.
Meanwhile, the NBA has consistently rated higher than other professional sports in gender hiring practices. Even though Hammon remains the NBA’s only female coach, the bowels of NBA front offices are filling with women ready to step to the forefront of front offices, however, the glass ceiling hasn’t been cracked, yet.
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