Before the Blazers hired Chauncey Billups to be the head coach of the franchise, the team interviewed numerous candidates such as South Carolina women's basketball head coach Dawn Staley.
On the latest episode of Tea with A & Phee with hosts A'ja Wilson & Napheesa Collier, Staley, fresh off coaching Team USA to a gold medal, discussed her candidacy with Portland.
“I never had an ounce of me that wanted to coach in the WNBA or the NBA, like none of me, until somebody sought me out like the Portland Trail Blazers,” Staley said.
Staley had some apprehensions about entertaining Portland's interest but decided it was put forward in good faith.
“When you’re being sought out, you have to vet it a little bit to see if they’re really serious about it. I thought they treated me like a real candidate. Whether or not they seriously considered me, I felt like it wasn’t a fluke. So I agreed to do it.”
Trail Blazers President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey stated after Terry Stotts mutually parted ways with Portland that the organization would vet from "20 to 25 candidates." The team did ultimately hire Billups who was long rumored to be Olshey's favorite even before being eliminated by Denver.
"It was a Zoom and there were like four or five people around," recalled Staley. "They were just firing questions... 'The X's and O's you don't really have to know as much right now, we want to know how you would deal with star players? How would you deal with players who didn't play? How would you deal with behavior?'
"That was most of the job."
Considering Damian Lillard's public approach this offseason, the franchise wanting a coach who can handle star personalities makes perfect sense.
All in all, Staley's happy she entertained the offer even if it didn't lead anywhere because of what it could lead to down the road.
"It was really, really a great experience. I took a lot of notes because if another female is ever in that position, I got the notes and I'm going to give them everything that they asked me, how I answered it, what they said.
"A couple days later they decided to go in a different direction but I thank them for the experience, I thank them for just treating me as if I was a serious candidate."