Kara Lawson

With Allison Feaster hiring, Celtics continue to add talent and diversity to coaching staff, front office

With Allison Feaster hiring, Celtics continue to add talent and diversity to coaching staff, front office

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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Celtics' Lawson knows that 'top of the world' feeling Team USA's women's soccer team is feeling now

Celtics' Lawson knows that 'top of the world' feeling Team USA's women's soccer team is feeling now

LAS VEGAS -- Most of us can only imagine what the United States’ women’s soccer team is feeling now after winning the World Cup with a 2-0 win over the Netherlands. 

And then there’s Boston Celtics assistant coach Kara Lawson who was an integral part of the 2008 Olympic gold medal-winning US women’s basketball team. 

Being the last team standing on such a global platform is a feeling few can fully comprehend, and even fewer will experience. 

Count Lawson among the fortunate. 

“It’s incredible,” Lawson told NBC Sports Boston. “People say the phrase ‘top of the world’ all the time. Most of the time they’re not top of the world. Here’s actually where that phrase applies; it’s an amazing feeling.”

Lawson said winning a global championship like the World Cup or an Olympic Gold medal is about more than being the best team during that period of time. 

“It’s an incredible validation of so many things when you get a chance to be part of a world championship team,” Lawson said. “Validation of your path, your upbringing, who helped you get there. validation of the work and time you put in to do that. 

Lawson added, “And then, it’s really validation of your group because forever, you’re that. It’s validation of that group together. So, that feeling, coming from so many different levels of your life individually, as an athlete, life as a group … it’s overwhelming. That’s why you see so many people overcome with emotions because it’s all those things crashing at one time.” 

Lawson, who scored a team-high 15 points in Team USA’s gold medal victory over Australia in the 2008 Olympics, has also won a WNBA title (Sacramento, 2005).

“They’re different,” Lawson said when asked about being part of both championship teams. 

“It’s so difficult to make the Olympic team,” Lawson said. “You know, it’s difficult to make the WNBA but it’s even harder to make it to that next one.”

Lawson also pointed out how winning a championship offers a moment to reflect, at least how it relates to women’s basketball, to embrace being part of a legacy. 

“When you look at the run that we (Team USA women’s basketball team) are currently on; I can see we because I’m part of that ... we’ve won like six straight Olympics," Lawson said. "To feel that, to be part of that, that’s what was most satisfying to me, to see the people who had done it before, to know that you’re name is with them.”

It is a feeling that most of us can only imagine. 

And then there’s the women’s soccer team that’s living in that moment as we speak, following a thrilling run towards a second straight World Cup. 

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Breakfast Pod: Happy Birthday America! Celtics off-season wrap up with Sean Grande

Breakfast Pod: Happy Birthday America! Celtics off-season wrap up with Sean Grande

A Fourth of July look ahead to the new-look Celtics from Sean Grande, the radio voice of the Green.

1:22 - Grande joins A. Sherrod Blakely and Gary Tanguay to discuss the Celtics off-season signings, draft picks and trades. Should they have done something differently? And what kind of team will it be next year?

6:37 - Kara Lawson makes history being the first female on the coaching staff in Celtics franchise history. Grande tells us why she is the perfect pick for the C's.

8:44 - In honor of July 4th, Trenni Kusnierek, Tom E. Curran, and Phil Perry weigh in on who is America’s team, and who is America’s sweetheart?

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