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Lindsey Harding says lack of ‘being comfortable in the unknown’ holds women back from NBA jobs

Chicago Bulls v Philadelphia 76ers

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 10: Assistant coach Lindsey Harding of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on prior to the game against the Chicago Bulls at the Wells Fargo Center on April 10, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

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Lindsey Harding, after spending a season coaching in Philadelphia, is heading to Sacramento to be part of Luke Walton’s coaching staff. She will be on the bench, a leap forward for Harding, another of a growing group of women coaches finding their footing and making a mark in the NBA. Lindsay Gottlieb in Cleveland and Kara Lawson in Boston also joined their new clubs this season.

More and more women are entering the NBA coaching ranks, but why in aren’t even more women jumping in? Harding told Ramona Shelburne of ESPN it’s not the players, it’s fear of the unknown.

“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,” said Harding...

“I think the whole thing is just being uncomfortable, or being comfortable in the unknown.”

Being comfortable in the unknown is a challenge for a lot of people of both genders. A woman coaching in the NBA is just doing that in a much brighter spotlight, which has to make it that much more daunting.

From my observations, she is right about the relationships in the locker room — players are generally all good with women coaches. If you know the game, if you can do the job, if you can help develop that player or the team, that is all that matters. Players respect game.

“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 said. “It was as if I’d been an NBA player.”

Harding has a great opportunity with a dynamic young Kings team, hopefully she can take full advantage of it.