The Boston Celtics as an organization have never shied away from doing something that they strongly believe in. This dates back to the 1950s when the Celtics became the first team to draft an African American player in Chuck Cooper, completely disregarding the country’s racial divide. Boston was also the first team to use an African American head coach in Bill Russell. The organization has never let public appeal make its decisions, no matter what it’s about.
Another instance is the Boston “walkout” during the late ’50s and into the early ’60s. Head coach Red Auerbach was informed that the hotel Boston planned on staying in had refused to provide rooms for the black players on the team or allow them to eat in the restaurant. As a result, a handful of black players told Auerbach that they felt uncomfortable, didn’t want to play in the game, and wanted to go home. To which, Auerbach personally drove Russell, “Satch” Sanders, KC Jones and Sam Jones to the airport.
The Boston Celtics need a new head coach and team president Brad Stevens could make history by hiring the first woman head coach in the NBA.
More recently, the Celtics didn’t hesitate in trading away their franchise pillar in Paul Pierce along with Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett in order to bolster their arsenal for the future. After winning a championship in 2008 and almost another in 2010, the Celtics did what was best for the team, even if it meant parting ways with two basketball legends. This trade essentially rolled out the red carpet for Boston to draft Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum third overall in back-to-back years in 2016 and 2017.
The man pulling the trigger behind all of this was Danny Ainge, as the former general manager and president of basketball operations of the Boston Celtics. As the season concluded for Boston earlier this week, Ainge has surprisingly decided to step down from his role with the team. With that, the Celtics promoted Brad Stevens from his head coaching duties into the president of basketball operations for the team.
Now the Boston Celtics are in the market for a new head coach, while majority owner and governor of the Celtics, Wyc Grousbeck, couldn’t be more excited for the process and the changes his team is making this offseason.
“Well we’re not going to put criteria out there. It’s a fair question but I’d like to reserve my right to not answer it. But I want a winner and whatever background that coach has remains to be seen. I’m excited about hiring a new coach. Excited about bringing in a new voice for the players and with Brad overseeing things and being in the mix. It’s really going to be Brad finding somebody he believes can lead this team forward.” – Wyc Grousbeck via NBC Sports Boston
As groundbreaking as the organization has been throughout its eternity, there’s a strong possibility the Celtics will hire the first woman head coach in NBA history. In 2019, Stevens lobbied to add Kara Lawson, an established WNBA player and ESPN basketball analyst to his coaching staff. Lawson became the first woman to hold a coaching role in Celtics history.
Lawson established herself quite well as a coach with the Celtics that she accepted an offer to become the head coach of the Duke women’s basketball team. Her first season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but many people believe that she is a leading candidate to become the head coach of the Boston Celtics.
“I think they’re going to hire Kara Lawson. I know the organization thinks she’s unbelievable. I know the players respect her. She’s insanely good as a coach. It’s not one of those things where ‘she’s good for a female.’ No, she walked into practice and she commanded practice right from the jump. She was giving people tips and people’s jaws were dropping. She’s elite at what she does. … I thought she was head coaching material within five minutes of talking with her.” – Brian Scalbrine, via NBC Sports Boston
We know how Stevens and the Celtics organization feel about Lawson. She holds a highly intelligent basketball mind that can understand and work through some of the struggles on the team. In fact, she chose to work with Marcus Smart during her year in Boston. Smart improved immensely as a shooter and now is considered a go-to guy when the Celtics need scoring.
It’s worth mentioning that Becky Hammon has been coaching under Greg Popovich in San Antonio for the last seven years. Hammon became the first female acting head coach in NBA history when she took over for the Spurs after Popovich was ejected in a game against the Los Angeles Lakers. It’s fair to say that being groomed by one of the best coaches in the league is the ideal way to start out a coaching career. Nevertheless, Hammon should start being a candidate for a coaching job of her own.
If there’s going to be a team to hire the first woman head coach in the NBA, there’s no better team to do so than the Boston Celtics.