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Hammon's success could only happen in the NBA

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Hammon's success could only happen in the NBA

Becky Hammon became the first female head coach in the NBA Summer League, then led her young Spurs team to a championship win in Las Vegas. 

Now, the basketball Internet's collective attention has turned toward her future. Is she ready to be the NBA's first female head coach? And if so, how long will it take her to get there? Is she being treated fairly?

These issues are all worthy of careful, nuanced discussion. But let's not overlook where this conversation is happening. 

Of America's four major professional sports, the NBA is the only league where hiring a female head coach is even on the table. Several possible reasons for that:

1. The WNBA. Regardless of sport, many head coaches are former players. But the NFL, MLB and NHL don't have established professional counterparts for women. In other sports (with the possible exception of soccer), women simply don't have the same opportunity for professional success as a player. It's easier for women to compete with men for coaching jobs when their résumés show comparable experience playing at the highest level.

2. The Internet. The modern NBA has integrated itself with the Internet and social media. This makes the league and its players more responsive, and in some ways beholden, to the way social attitudes evolve online. For example, the NBA engages with the basketball blogosphere by allowing liberal use of game highlights and making player-tracking data available to the public. Remember that time commissioner Adam Silver personally responded to a lottery reform suggestion by FiveThirtyEight? And because the NBA has comparatively fewer players with longer careers, even non-stars get enough exposure to grow an Internet following, especially through social media.

The more the NBA interacts with an online audience, the more influence that audience exerts. Don't think of it as Twitter mobs forcing the league to accept women, but rather players and executives and writers and fans informing each other's opinions about social issues like gender equality. 

3. Gender sensitive PR. It's no coincidence that Silver announced a review of the league's domestic violence policy in the wake of the NFL controversy last season. He acted decisively and transparently in suspending Hornets forward Jeff Taylor for 24 games for domestic violence, avoiding much of the criticism leveled at the NFL.

The NBA also partnered with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg for the #LeanInTogether campaign. It included commercials with NBA and WNBA stars talking about how men can 'Lean In' to help women level the playing field. “The NBA is committed to creating a work environment that expects -- and benefits from -- gender equality,” Silver said in a statement about the initiative. “#LeanInTogether provides men with the tools to share responsibilities equally in the office with our colleagues and at home with our families.”

To be clear, embracing a female coach isn't a public relations ploy. It's the league walking its talk, or more aptly, putting its money where its mouth is. 

And that hasn't happened anywhere but the NBA. 

MORE WIZARDS: Dudley's back puts wrench into small ball plans

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Early favorites for Wizards' 1st round pick; Mark Turgeon joins the show

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Early favorites for Wizards' 1st round pick; Mark Turgeon joins the show

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chris Miller caught up with Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon at the NBA Combine.

Turgeon talked about his three draft-eligible players and what this time is like advising them. Chris and Chase Hughes also gave their early favorites for the Wizards' first round pick and their biggest takeaways from the NBA Combine measurements.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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Wizards' first pre-draft workout to feature Kentucky's Diallo, UMBC's upset hero

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards' first pre-draft workout to feature Kentucky's Diallo, UMBC's upset hero

The Washington Wizards will hold their first pre-draft workout on Tuesday at Capital One Arena and the group of six players features some familiar names. 

Included in the mix is guard Jairus Lyles, who starred for the Unversity of Maryland-Baltimore County and helped lead them as a 16-seed over top-ranked Virginia in the NCAA Tournament. It was the first 16-over-a-1 upset in the tournament's history.

Here are the six players with some notes on each one...

Chris Chiozza, guard, Florida (6-0, 175)

Chiozza played four years at Florida and finished as the school's all-time assists leader. He averaged 11.1 points, 6.1 assists and 1.9 steals per game as a senior.

Potential fit with Wizards: undrafted free agent, G-League prospect

Hamidou Diallo, guard, Kentucky (6-5, 198)

Diallo redshirted in 2016-17 and played one season for the Wildcats. He averaged 10.0 points and 3.6 rebounds while shooting 45.8 percent from the field. Diallo measured 6-foot-6 with shoes at the combine and boasts a 7-foot wingspan.

Potential fit with Wizards: second round pick, backup shooting guard

Tiwian Kendley, guard, Morgan State (6-5, 190)

Kendly was a big-time scorer at Morgan St., averaging 21.0 points as a redshirt junior and 26.1 points as a senior. He took a lot of shots, however, averaging 18.2 field goal attempts on 45.3 percent from the field this past season. Kendley starred at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Maryland before joining the college ranks, first at Lamar Community College.

Potential fit with Wizards: undrafted free agent, G-League prospect

Jairus Lyles, guard, UMBC (6-2, 175)

Lyles was the leading scorer for the Retrievers this past season as they became the biggest underdog Cinderella in NCAA history, defeating the No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. He averaged 20.2 points and shot 39.0 percent from three on 6.1 attempts. Lyles began his college career at VCU and played high school ball at nearby DeMatha.

Potential fit with Wizards: undrafted free agent, G-League prospect

Doral Moore, center, Wake Forest (7-1, 280)

A three-year player at Wake Forest, Moore had a breakout season as a junior with averages of 11.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. Moore played with Sixers star Ben Simmons in high school.

Potential fit with Wizards: undrafted free agent, G-League prospect

Ray Spalding, forward, Louisville (6-10, 215)

Spalding played three years at Louisville and averaged 12.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.5 steals per game as a junior. He posted a 7-5 wingspan at the NBA Combine. Spalding played with Jazz star Donovan Mitchell in college. 

Potential fit with Wizards: undrafted free agent, G-League prospect

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