Ex-WNBA No. 1 pick Lindsey Harding debuts as head coach for Sacramento Kings’ G League affiliate

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Lindsey Harding, the No. 1 pick of the 2007 WNBA Draft, is the only woman serving as a head coach of an American men’s professional basketball team. And Friday night is her first game.

When Harding, 39, leads the Stockton Kings in a G League opener Friday against the Santa Cruz Warriors in Santa Cruz, she will be the only woman head coach in either the NBA or G League.

Harding, a former Duke standout who was the Naismith Player of the Year in 2007 and then was drafted first the same year by the Phoenix Mercury, spent the last four seasons as an assistant coach for Sacramento — Stockton’s parent organization. She is currently the head coach for the Mexican women’s national team, and before that served in the same role for the South Sudan women’s team. Her No. 10 jersey was retired by Duke.

Women coaching in the NBA is still rare, but less so, with more and more working as player development coaches or as second or third assistants. Becky Hammon was a top assistant to Spurs coach Greg Popovich for years, and became the first woman to be the head coach in an NBA game when Pop was ejected against the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 30, 2020. She also was a head coach for the Spurs during the NBA Summer League, a showcase for rookies and young players hoping to make a team in the fall.

Harding is the first woman to be head coach since the NBA’s developmental league — the G League — took on its current name and form in 2017. Prior to that, when the NBA’s minor league was known as the D League — Nancy Lieberman served as head coach for the Texas Legends (Dallas Mavericks) from 2009 to 2011.

Harding and Lieberman are the only full-time women head coaches in the NBA and its official minor league’s history.

There are no women coaching men’s teams in Division I college basketball; former WNBA star Tamara Moore is coaching the men’s team at Mesabi Range College in Minnesota — a junior college.

(Photo: Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

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