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Nancy Lieberman: Kings might not have hired me if Becky Hammon didn’t win Summer League title

2014 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame David Stern and other Inductees Honored

DALLAS - APRIL 7: Nancy Lieberman speaks at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announcement that former NBA Commissioner David Stern will be inducted into the Hall on April 7, 2014 at the Omni Hotel in Dallas, Texas. Stern along with 9 other members will be inducted August 7-9 during this year’s Enshrinement Ceremonies in Springfield, Massachusetts. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)

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1. Becky Hammon coached the Spurs to the Las Vegas Summer League title.

2. The Kings hired Nancy Lieberman as the NBA’s second female full-time assistant coach.

Was that cause and effect?

Lieberman, via David Aldridge of

That said, if Becky doesn’t coach in the Summer League, and win, you and I might not be doing this interview, whether I’m qualified or not. And I know I’m qualified.

Sometimes it takes something no one was expecting to put the shine on where it needs to be. I don’t mind being Larry Doby (the second African-American player to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball, with the Cleveland Indians in July, 1947, 11 weeks after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers), quite honestly. It was never about just Becky, and it never was about just me. If it was, then that’s a selfish act. Look at all the African-American players who played baseball after Jackie. That’s the true essence of success. For Branch Rickey, what he and Jackie did was profound. So what Pop and Becky did, whatever the timing, was profound. Now I have been afforded an opportunity to do what I love and what I’ve been groomed to do my whole life, and it opened up a lot of coaches’ eyes. I’m not going to say you’re going to see Noah’s Ark, with women, you know, coaching, coming, into the league. You have to earn the right, and the relationships are very, very important. Nobody gets hired by what it says on a resume. You get hired by the relationships, and proving that you have the wherewithal. I’m thrilled for her. Quite frankly, I’m thrilled for me.

I don’t think Lieberman is giving the Kings enough credit.

George Karl was considering adding her to his staff in February, long before Hammon won the Summer League Championship. Lieberman also spent time with the Kings in Las Vegas, again before anyone could have known San Antonio would capture the title.

Under owner Vivek Ranadivé, the Kings have frequently bucked convention. That has usually led to bad decisions – firing a coach 24 games into his second season while exceeding all reasonable expectations, crowdsourcing draft analysis, cherry-picking, hiring someone with no front-office experience to run the front office, etc. But it probably also led to hiring a female assistant coach.

Maybe the Kings needed to see Hammon with the Spurs before making the plunge. But I don’t think their decision to hire Lieberman hinged on something as trivial and fluky as a summer-league title.