Kings coach Lindsey Harding reveals why more female coaches aren't in NBA


Kings coach Lindsey Harding reveals why more female coaches aren't in NBA

The Kings' coaching staff has grown in recent days with the addition of Lindsey Harding and Stacey Augmon as assistant coaches/player development and Rico Hines as a player development coach.

When Harding was added onto coach Luke Walton's staff, she became part of an ever-growing group of female coaches in the NBA. She has an extensive résumé in basketball, including nine seasons in the WNBA, but she felt that she played in the same league as the Kings and the 29 other teams.

"The moment you talk to any guy that plays [in the NBA], you say hi, here's who I am and what I've done, I've played [in the WNBA] or coached [in college], there's an automatic respect," Harding recently told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne. "It was as if I'd been an NBA player."

But it wasn't easy.

From the beginning, she questioned herself, but it was never about the men she would be working with.

"The question is always, 'Will the guys respect you? Can [women] coach men?' But when you get [to the NBA], the guys aren't the problem at all. That's the most fun part," she said.

The former Duke star said it stems from "just being uncomfortable, or being comfortable in the unknown."

"I think if you speak to any other woman that is coaching here, they would say the same thing about the players," Harding told Shelburne. "They've been fantastic. The players have never been the issue. I guess it's just being afraid of the unknown."

But that unknown was never around her ability to know the game. You couldn't tell her she doesn't know basketball. Not when she's someone who has played professionally for years.

In addition to her 9 years in the WNBA, she played internationally in Turkey, Lithuania and Russia. She also participated in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

And those were just her achievements as a player.

She recently comes to Sacramento from the Philadelphia 76ers, where she worked as a player development coach. Before her promotion, she worked as the NBA's first African American female professional scout for the 76ers.

Harding added she's aware of the growth of women within the NBA coaching world, but it's not just basketball that's a struggle for women to get in the door. As a matter of fact, sports are just a small part of it. 

"This isn't the only job in the world that was difficult for women to break through," she said. "At one point, with every job, there was only one woman doing it. and then eventually other women start doing it. I mean, you don't think twice now when you see a female doctor."

At Duke, Harding was a star. She earned the 2007 Naismith College Player of the Year Award and had her No. 10 jersey retired. She was also inducted into the Duke Athletics Hall of Fame in 2018, becoming just the third women's basketball student-athlete to receive the honor. 

[RELATED: Lindsay Gottlieb excited for challenge with Cavs]

The unknown can be an intimidating place, but it appears Harding has the support and the credentials to handle the uncharted territory she will be introduced to. We're just lucky enough to see what she's about to do.

How Kings are handling leaving family behind for NBA's Orlando restart

How Kings are handling leaving family behind for NBA's Orlando restart

The NBA’s Orlando bubble -- it’s a concept that somehow we have begun to normalize.

Later this week, the Kings and 21 other NBA teams will travel via private jet to Disney World where they will be under lock and key for a minimum of five weeks.

On paper, it doesn’t sound all that bad. Five-star accommodations, tons of food options, a golf course, bowling alley, ping pong tables. The only thing that is missing are the players' families, who won’t be allowed to join the bubble until after the first round of the playoffs, somewhere around Aug. 31.

NBA players and staff are normal people, just like everyone else. The bubble concept is a way for the league to survive and save at least some of the revenue stream that has all but disappeared due to the coronavirus pandemic. But the league is asking its players to walk away from their families for an extended period of time.

“There’s no way around the fact that this is a sacrifice,” Harrison Barnes said. “Whether you’re being away from your family, whether you’re not going to be able to see your parents, your siblings, whatever it may be. And not having an end date too, definitely adds an extra bit of focus to you, that if you’re going to be away from your family for this long, you want to make it work, you want to make it something that you’re completely locked in and focused on and giving your all to, or else it’s a waste of time.”

Barnes is married, but does not have children. He might be in the minority on that front on the Kings' roster.

[RELATED: Harrison Barnes keeps word, won't shave beard until Kings hit .500 record]

Nemanja Bjelica’s children can be seen on the court in pregame. Buddy Hield’s daughter waits for him after most home games. Richaun Holmes and De’Aaron Fox both have little ones.

Kent Bazemore has been known to post pictures of his little boy on twitter and his wife has another one on the way due later this year.

“It’s tough,” Bazemore said earlier this week during one of the Kings Zoom media calls. “It’s tough on being a husband and a father. I cried like a little baby when I left to head out here a couple weeks ago -- just seeing him and my wife standing on the front porch as I’m leaving, and he has absolutely no idea I’m gone as long as I’m going to be gone.”

“It’s definitely tough, especially him being such a young age,” Bazemore added. “It’s pivotal as a child to kind of have that stable foundation, and my wife is also pregnant with a little girl coming in September, so the realistic front is very tough.”

A week ago, Corey Brewer was out of the league wondering if he would get another shot at age 34. The 12-year vet will get that opportunity with the Kings, but again, it will come at a cost.

“That’s probably the hardest part for me,” Brewer said. “I have small kids. One’s six and one’s three months, so it was tough to leave them, but they understand I’m getting older. Any chance I get to play basketball, I have to take it. They’re happy. My son’s happy I get to play again, and we FaceTime every day for like five hours, so we still see each other.”

Modern technology has made the world a smaller place, but there is nothing that can replace physical contact.

“In your 20s and 30s, you make a lot of sacrifices, but I’m in a position to really set up my legacy and really help those behind me,” Bazemore said. “So It’s a tough decision and it’s something my wife and I are diligently working on, trying to stay connected, you know, phone calls, videos, FaceTime, doing everything we can to stay connected.”

[RELATED: Kings' Kent Bazemore could envision staying for 'next couple of years']

There is a human element that is being missed. Players aren’t just going to Orlando and risking infection by playing a sport. They are leaving everything behind for a month or two and perhaps longer.

This is a complex situation with real life consequences for players and their loved ones. Adding to the issue is that these aren’t normal times and that the world is in the midst of a pandemic.

The league is hopeful that they can limit the exposure to coronavirus by running a tight ship, but the families of the players will not be afforded that same luxury while at home.

There is no perfect solution, but fans should keep in mind that while they want to see NBA basketball and regain some of the escapism that professional sports provides, there might be times when players' minds are not 100 percent focused on the game at hand.

Kings assistant Igor Kokoskov announced as Fenerbahçe Beko head coach

Kings assistant Igor Kokoskov announced as Fenerbahçe Beko head coach

While Kings assistant coach Igor Kokoskov will travel to Orlando with the team, he has a new gig awaiting him after the NBA season concludes.

European basketball powerhouse Fenerbahçe Beko Istanbul announced Saturday that Kokoskov will be there next head coach.

Kokoskov has agreed to a three-year contract with Fenerbahçe, according to their press release.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski first reported Thursday that Kokoskov would take over Fenerbahçe. A league source confirmed to NBC Sports California's James Ham that Kokoskov would remain with the Kings through the completion of their 2019-20 slate.

Kokoskov, 48, has been an NBA coach since the 2000-01 season. He spent time as an assistant with the Los Angeles Clippers, Detroit Pistons, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers, Utah Jazz and Kings. He also spent the 2018-19 season as the head coach of the Suns, where he amassed a 19-63 record.

The 2019-20 season was Kokoskov's first on Luke Walton's staff.

Kings guard Bogdan Bogdanovic, who plays for Kokoskov on the Serbian National Team, congratulated his coach on his new job.

[RELATED: Bazemore open to Kings return]

Kokoskov and the Kings are scheduled to arrive in Orlando this upcoming week for the restart of the NBA season. They will participate in three scrimmages before playing eight seeding games. If they can remain within four games of the No. 8 seed, Sacramento would force play-in games for the last playoff seed in the Western Conference.

If the Kings can find a way into the playoffs, they can send Kokoskov out with a bang.