The Boston Celtics are sad to see Kara Lawson go, but ecstatic to see her begin a new chapter as head coach of the Duke University women's basketball program.
Lawson, who joined the C's prior to this season and became the first female assistant coach in franchise history, was officially welcomed aboard by Duke on Saturday. Former Duke star Jayson Tatum promptly congratulated her on the exciting opportunity, and several C's followed suit after their practice Sunday.
"We’re thrilled for her," said head coach Brad Stevens. "I don’t want to take away from her press conference tomorrow before she gets more of a chance to talk about it. I can’t say enough about what a terrific person, terrific coach, she’ll be a great fit at Duke with their incredible tradition.
"She’s really excited. We actually went on a walk – Kara, [Stevens’ wife] Tracy and I – a couple of months ago. And we were talking about what she’d be interested in the future, and being the head coach at Duke was one of the things that came up. So it’s really cool that she’s getting a chance to do that. She’ll be terrific."
Download the MyTeams app for the latest Celtics news and analysis
Even after just one season, Lawson has made a tremendous impact on Boston's players. Celtics big man Robert Williams opened up about how Lawson was a positive influence both on and off the court.
"Kara is always known for putting a smile on players' faces," Williams said. "She stays in your ear, even though she may not be your personal coach she always keeps asking how I'm doing and if there's anything I need to talk about, so I feel like Duke is going to get a great head coach. We're going to miss her. We don't want her to go, but it's on to bigger and better opportunities."
Smart echoed Williams' sentiments, calling Lawson a "friend" and someone he had a connection with since she was hired by the Celtics last summer.
"When Kara first got here, actually, and this is why our bond has been strong, she had the option to work with anybody. Brad gave her the option to choose who she wanted to work with, and the first person she chose with me," said Smart. "When she told Brad the reason why, she just liked the way I play my whole game. So that really hit home for me and it meant a lot. And like I said our relationship just built amongst that and she became more than just my shooting coach, she became a longtime friend and somebody I know I can talk to if I ever need advice.”
Lawson starred as a player at the University of Tennessee and went on to have 13 successful seasons in the WNBA. She served as an NBA and WNBA analyst for ESPN before joining the Celtics' coaching staff.
If what the C's had to say about Lawson is any indication, there's no doubt she will do great things for Duke as it aims to make its way back into the NCAA Tournament.