In an open letter about female coaches, Pau Gasol writes: “If you think I’m writing this to argue why Becky is qualified to be an NBA head coach … well, you’re mistaken. That part is obvious.”
An Open Letter About Female Coaches
By Pau Gasol, San Antonio Spurs
I want to tell you a little something about my parents.
I grew up just outside of Barcelona, a child of two highly successful professionals. My father was a nurse and my mother was a doctor. Naturally, I took to studying science — and after high school I even did one year of med school, before eventually devoting my time fully to basketball. I sometimes think about what would have happened if I had stuck with medicine and followed in my parents’ footsteps.
I remember how people would often mistake my father as the doctor and my mom as the nurse — it happened more often than it should have, in my mind. To me, that my mother was a successful doctor … this was just the norm. And don’t get me wrong: I admired my dad’s hard work and job as well. But I grew up knowing that my mom got into a more rigorous school and program, and thus she had the more prominent job. That wasn’t weird, or a judgment in any direction. It was just the truth. And we never really thought twice about it.
Growing up, my brothers and I always admired this standard set by our parents.
And now that I’m an adult, and looking forward to being a parent in the near future myself, I realize even more how lucky I am to have been raised to that standard. It’s a standard by which the only question worth asking — it isn’t about if you’re the right “kind” of person for your job. Rather, it’s about how well equipped you are for the job.
In 37 years, I can honestly say, I’ve never once thought of my mom as a “female” doctor.
To me, she has always just been … a doctor.
And a great one, too.
The reason I wanted to start by telling you about my parents, is that their story makes me think about today’s NBA. Specifically about how, in the 72-year history of the league, there has never been a female head coach. Even more specifically, it makes me think of Becky Hammon: a coach who has been the topic of much conversation lately, and who I’ve had the opportunity to play for in San Antonio.
But if you think I’m writing this to argue why Becky is qualified to be an NBA head coach … well, you’re mistaken. That part is obvious: One, she was an accomplished player — with an elite point guard’s mind for the game. And two, she has been a successful assistant for arguably the greatest coach in the game. What more do you need? But like I said — I’m not here to make that argument. Arguing on Coach Hammon’s behalf would feel patronizing. To me, it would be strange if NBA teams were not interested in her as a head coach.