Glass ceilings are not always meant to be looked through and admired. In the world of building societal equity and equality of opportunity, they are meant to be broken. Broken like Shaq used to break glass backboards.
The Milwaukee Bucks could be just the organization to do exactly that, with the potential to do it first in their discernment of a new coaching hire, and secondly – even more substantially – by making that hire.
In the Bucks’ push to extend their ceiling of success to a new height, they have fired Jason Kidd as head coach. With Joe Prunty running the ship for the rest of 2017-18, the Bucks are looking for the best man for the permanent job come summer.
Wait a minute. Let me grab the 21st century of white-out. I have to make a correction.
OK, take two.
With Joe Prunty running the ship for the rest of 2017-18, the Bucks are looking for the best person for the permanent job come summer.
Why the modern “white-out” on the above sentence?
Because for the first time in American professional sports history, there is a chance a woman may be the best person to be a head coach on a men’s pro team at the sport’s highest level.
That person is Becky Hammon, an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs.
Yes, those San Antonio Spurs. With that coach, Gregg Popovich. The most accomplished coach in the NBA at least since Phil Jackson, and perhaps better than Jackson since he only had one all-time top 50 player at his disposal in Tim Duncan compared to Jackson with Jordan, Pippen, Kobe and the aforementioned Big Aristotle.
Popovich has created the atmosphere that Hammon has soaked into her coaching DNA by osmosis for three full and one-half seasons.
Hammon, 41, has head coaching experience. OK, not a huge amount, but under the gaze of the master’s eye and counsel, she coached the Spurs during a portion of the 2017 preseason.
She has six WNBA All-Star appearances on her resume. She knows the life of a pro athlete, so she can relate.
And, she has a history with the Bucks in the interview chair. They reportedly spoke with her about the general manager’s job last summer before hiring Jon Horst.
Do I think Hammon is automatically the best candidate for the job once the Bucks start the permanent coaching job search? No way is that for me to say.
I am all for picking the best candidate available, period. It’s possible the best person for the role may already be in Milwaukee – another former Popovich protege, acting coach Joe Prunty. If he delivers Milwaukee to a playoff series win, how can you deny him the job unless Red Auerbach comes back from the dead or Jackson himself pines for the position?
But if the judgment on 4th and Juneau is that Prunty is not the person, then the door – or ceiling – could be wide open for Hammon.
Simply having Horst and Bucks ownership discern Hammon among the list of candidates would be history in itself – like taking one of those Milwaukee Tool drills used on the Bucks arena construction site and drilling a hole in the glass ceiling for women in sports.
It would bring oxygen into the room and showcase new light and new opportunity that is far overdue for women.
And if it happens to be that Hammon is the best person for the job? The impact of that blasted-out ceiling would become so much bigger than that of the construction of a new Milwaukee Bucks arena to keep the team in town.
It would offer echoes of Jackie Robinson joining the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, breaking the baseball color barrier – a major step in the American human rights movement that preceded the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and so may others.
It would open up a previous men’s-only club for 149 years at the top level of American pro sports – for the most part, not a club that has been purposefully all-male for its own sake – and show that a woman’s place can be in leadership of the continuing drive to being the best basketball team in the world.
Dear Bucks, discern Becky Hammon as a candidate for the permanent head coach.
If she’s the best person – not best man, best person – for the job, and she directs Giannis, Khris and their fellow men to the Bucks’ second world title, that might just blow the roof off the Bucks’ new arena.
And blow a major glass ceiling in sports to smithereens.
Kudos to Matt Harman for spreading the idea.