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When Gregg Popovich thinks the NBA will be ready for a female head coach

When Gregg Popovich thinks the NBA will be ready for a female head coach

WASHINGTON -- The Wizards hosting the Spurs on Wednesday night brought together two of the 11 NBA teams that currently employ a female assistant coach. The Wizards have Kristi Toliver on their bench and the Spurs have Becky Hammon.

That confluence prompted a question to San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich on the future of women in the NBA coaching ranks and whether a head coaching hire could happen sometime soon. 

The Wizards play the Hornets on Friday at 7 p.m. EST on NBC Sports Washington.

Though it has been five years since he hired Hammon as the first full-time female assistant coach in league history, Popovich is uncertain on exactly when a team will make the leap to hiring a woman to run their operation.

"That depends on people and organizations," he said. 

"It's a process and it doesn't happen quickly. But I think the more women there are [in the game] and as it becomes more commonplace and more the rule, it will then depend on an organization realizing there are women that can do this. Every woman can't, every man can't. But the point is there gotta be enough to choose from and it's gotta be pretty commonplace before I think somebody's gonna pull the trigger."

Popovich believes it will happen, he's just not sure when. The Wizards hiring Toliver last summer was another step in that direction and he believes she and others are showing the basketball world what they are capable of.

"There's no difference between a woman who knows the game and a man who knows the game. It's just another prejudice that probably has to be overcome just like a lot of other prejudices in the world have become less and less as people paid attention to them," Popovich said.

Hammon made the news over the weekend when Popovich was ejected from the Spurs' loss to the Kings and a committee of assistants coached the rest of the game. Popovich was asked why he didn't appoint Hammon to serve in the role for the rest of the game and he told reporters he was "not here to make history." 

Still, though there has never been a female head coach in any of the four major U.S. sports, it seems like the NBA is by far the closest with people like Hammon and Tolliver already knocking on the door.

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Scott Brooks: Bradley Beal is one of the NBA's best overall players

Scott Brooks: Bradley Beal is one of the NBA's best overall players

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks always has nice things to say about Bradley Beal, his star shooting guard. But on Thursday night's 'Wizards Greatest Hits' broadcast on NBC Sports Washington, he took it up a notch with his praise.

While speaking with host Chris Miller as they watched back the Wizards' Jan. 2019 win over the Knicks in London, Brooks shared some very high compliments of Beal.

"He is really one of the best players in the league," Brooks said. "All-around, not only at guard, he is one of the best players in the league. His game has improved so much over the past three years. He's getting better every year."

As they watched the fourth quarter of that Wizards-Knicks game, Brooks went on about how Beal can flip a switch during crunch time and how sometimes all it takes is a quick conversation between them.

"There are times where I need him to take over a game. I just say 'Brad, it's time,'" Brooks said.

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The best line from Brooks may have been when Beal not making the 2019-20 All-Star team came up. Brooks' coaching peers vote on the reserves and they famously left Beal out, which made for some history combined with his scoring average at the time.

Brooks wants to know from other NBA coaches: "If you don't think he's an All-Star, then why are you double-teaming every single time we play?"

If you get an answer to that question, Scott, be sure to let us know.

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The next 'The Last Dance'? Five sports stories we want to see

The next 'The Last Dance'? Five sports stories we want to see

It’s been just under a fortnight since sports fans joined together to relive the Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls era of the 90s through ESPN's 'The Last Dance' documentary.

Through unprecedented access viewers were treated to an exclusive look at the Chicago Bulls' final NBA championship during the 1997-98 season.

So many memories were brought to the surface while many other unknown revelations left us all in awe. And like you, I couldn’t help but imagine some of the other sports stories I would love to receive the same treatment.

With that thought in mind, I present to you five of the best candidates for your consideration for their own #LastDance:

5. “The Dub” - The Birth of the WNBA

There was something major missing from professional sports 24 years ago: omen. As a remedy, then-NBA Commissioner David Stern took the most significant step for women’s professional basketball by founding the WNBA and providing a counterpart to the NBA platform to showcase the best basketball talent women’s sports has to offer. Led by players like Lisa Leslie, Rebecca Lobo, and Sheryl Swoopes, the WNBA declared “We Got Next”, and has since gone on to deliver on that promise.

4. “Carolina Blues” - Duke vs North Carolina (Men's Basketball)

It’s impossible to tell the story of basketball, college basketball in particular, without mentioning the entire state of North Carolina; the Duke Blue Devils and UNC Tar Heels most notably. Only 10 miles separate the two programs that have combined for 11 national championships and produced countless NBA players. It’s not enough to ask why so many players attend these institutions. That’s easy. What really needs to be explored is how deep the rivalry between these two schools goes and how can they coexist while remaining in such close proximity. With so much competitive fire in a state with a population of 10.5 million, it’s inevitable that from time to time someone has to sing the blues while their rival hoists another trophy.

3. “Game. Set. Goat.” - The Legend of Serena Williams

Name another athlete as dominant as Serena Williams; especially within the game of tennis. Williams' accolades include 73 Singles Titles, seven Wimbledon Titles, Olympic Gold Medalist several times over, and that’s not even scratching the surface. From the courts of Compton, CA, all the way to the clay of the Australia Open, Serena has provided greatness at a level few have experienced, many have attempted, and all have witnessed. She’s in a class all to herself and yet has always maintained a never-ending fervor for athletic excellence; even against intermittently insurmountable odds. Regardless of the obstacles, she has persevered to this day to still be considered the GOAT. Period.

2. “The Patriot Way” - One Franchise; Six Rings

Winning and controversy go hand-in-hand. That’s to be expected; especially in sports. However, both of them have been at a fever pitch for the New England Patriots for almost two decades since their first Super Bowl Championship in 2001. When fate combines one of the greatest coaching minds ever with one of the most competitive athletes ever, it’s no mystery that their greatness yields some rather bewildering results, even if it means bending the rules from time to time. There’s no mistaking the fruits of their labor, but there’s also nothing wrong with peeking behind the curtain to get an intimate understanding of how things got done the Patriot Way!

1. “Diesel & The Mamba” - The End of the Shaq & Kobe Lakers 

On the road to three consecutive NBA titles in the early 2000s, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal entertained us with the most dominant basketball performance since MJ’s Bulls of the 90s. We knew they were great. We knew they had the great Phil Jackson as their coach. We knew they were having fun being young, rich and successful in Los Angeles. What we didn’t know is why these two all-time great players couldn’t keep their relationship intact long enough to possibly challenge, if not supplant, the aforementioned Chicago Bulls as the greatest dynasty in NBA history. If only…

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