BOSTON -- The Celtics franchise from its early days has been one of the more progressive NBA teams when it comes to diversity.
Chuck Cooper, inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday, was the first black player drafted by an NBA team when the Celtics picked him in the 1950 NBA draft.
The Celtics also delivered the NBA's first all-black starting five in 1964 and first black head coach (Bill Russell) two years later.
The storied Celtics franchise continues to be a progressive pacesetter these days with the addition of women to their staff and basketball operations.
Earlier this summer Kara Lawson was named a Celtics assistant coach and on Friday, Danny Ainge announced that Allison Feaster would be joining the Celtics family as well.
Feaster, a decorated standout basketball player at Harvard and former WNBA player, will be the Celtics director of player development.
Prior to these two hires, the Celtics - like most NBA teams - had no women on the coaching staff or in the team's front office.
But with the increasingly recognized need for diversity, this has led to many employers including the NBA, to look a lot longer and harder at considering women for job vacancies.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has made no secret about his desire to see more women in positions on the bench, in the front office and in officiating.
That message has resonated with many teams, the Celtics included.
Indeed, having more diversity in both the coaching ranks and front office is becoming more of a priority for NBA teams.
“I think that the biggest thing is, I believe men and women are different and bring a different perspective,” Ainge said on Friday at WBUR’s CitySpace.
But within that unique perspective are skills, talents and abilities that greatly benefit organizations, the qualities that both Lawson and Feaster bring to the table.
Last season, the Celtics had a roster full of players that at the end of the day, had their own agendas because of their own unique set of circumstances.
Having spent 13 seasons in the WNBA, Lawson has more professional basketball experience than any of Boston's other assistants which gives her tremendous insight for the job.
“My perspective that I try to bring is, I’ve been there,” Lawson said during an interview in July. “I’ve won a championship. I’ve played almost any role you can possibly play on a team. I’ve been a rookie where I didn’t play a lot. I’ve been a point guard where I started every game and we made it to the conference finals. I’ve been a sixth man more years than I wanted to be. So I can relate to when you get put to that sixth position. And it sucks when you come in every day and the starters are in green and you are in white. It’s the worst, but you have to deal with it and you gotta be a pro. So, most of the things they experienced emotionally, I have experienced too. I can not just understand, but I can relate to their ups and downs.”
Feaster comes in having spent 10 years (1998-2008) playing in the WNBA, and nearly two decades (1998-2016) playing overseas. She comes to Boston after having served as manager of player personnel and coach relations for the G-League.
“These two women we brought in are very, very well educated, experienced in the world of basketball,” Ainge said. “And I think they are going to bring a great perspective to our coaching staff and to our organization.”
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