Sorry, The NBA Has A Sexism Problem

Sorry, The NBA Has A Sexism Problem

When will the NBA recognize the issue at hand?
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As NBA fans, it's easy to get completely wrapped up in the game and begin to forget the world around us. That is often the allure of sports: creating an escape from the issues of society. While sports are able to put up a wall, it is often a façade as reality will always creep in. In relation to other sports’ leagues, the NBA has often been on the forefront of social issues, including having the first openly gay athlete in a major American sport.

Basketball players openly talk about race relations and politics. Social issues are pushed to the forefront often in the NBA, making it a more progressive league.

However, the NBA is facing a crossroads as a league in terms of gender, with a multitude of women attempting to break into the league. This time around, the NBA is being far from hospitable and is thus far failing to uphold its duty to create a level playing field for all.

Women first began their ascent into the NBA with referee Violet Palmer breaking the gender barrier in 1997. She was able to open the door for women referees, but criticism around the league has been loud. Looking back at this game in 2015, referee Lauren Holtkamp called a technical foul on point guard Chris Paul.

Paul took great offense to her officiating, citing at the end of his media interview that the NBA “might not be for her.” Even with Chris Paul being a noted hot head that is critical of many referees, that comment is completely unfair and absolutely ridiculous. WNBA players often say that NBA players are typically supportive of women’s hoops, but in Paul’s case, it is clear that sentiment isn’t held by all.

In the past year, women have begun to work their way into other areas of the sport. San Antonio Spurs’ assistant coach Becky Hammon has been a true trailblazer, accomplishing more than any other female coach in the NBA. Following a successful playing career in the WNBA and overseas, Hammon became the first full-time, paid assistant female coach in the history of the NBA. Along the way, Hammon has shown acute coaching acumen, developing relationships with players and helping them improve their skills.

Following a successful stint as the coach of the Spurs’ Summer League team (they finished as 2016 Summer League champions), Hammon got the ultimate stamp of approval from her boss, five-time NBA champion, and three-time NBA coach of the year Gregg Popovich. In a recent statement, Popovich says he believes that Hammon is ready to do what no women has done before and head a team in the NBA.

Now the question remains of if teams will allow it to happen. This offseason, nine teams (nearly one-third of the league) have had a head coaching vacancy. Now nearly a month after the regular season concluded, six of those teams have already skipped over Hammon. Looking at the candidates picked, many are uninspiring. The new hires include two coaching retreads who were recently let go by their old teams (Mike Budenholzer to Milwaukee, David Fizdale to New York), guys that have spent a lot of their last few seasons losing (J.B. Bickerstaff to Memphis, Lloyd Pierce to Atlanta), a colleague of Hammon from the Spurs (James Borrego to Charlotte), and the first European-born head coach in NBA history (Igor Kokoskov).

Do any of these coaching hires show more promise than Hammon? Do any have as impressive of a resume and backing from respected NBA voices? Most damningly, Becky Hammon has yet to be a finalist for any of the jobs she has interviewed for, while coaches like Kelvin Sampson are getting teams’ full attention.

The sexism even extends beyond the court and into the media room. The most prominent woman in sports media has been Doris Burke, who uses her years as a point guard to dissect the game in a well-versed manner. Burke spent years as a sideline analyst, doing a fantastic job while proving herself to be wildly overqualified for such a position.

Over the past year, she became the first woman to secure a full-time national announcing role in NBA history. According to Programming Insider, Doris Burke has been limited by her employer, ESPN, to only five announcing jobs, out of a possible sixty-four, this postseason through the first two rounds. Instead of viewers getting the privilege to listen to an insightful in-game analysis, the Eastern Conference Finals is being announced by Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson, who would much rather argue about how the game is worse in present day than provide a pleasurable listening experience. Burke provides a fresh perspective, but is currently being undervalued as she has been instead relegated back to the sidelines.

Holtkamp, Hammon, and Burke are all victims of the sexism that has been fostered within the NBA. The NBA has blueprints on how to solve these ethical dilemmas, from the 1960s when the league became integrated or the early 2000s when the stigma around European players was busted. On May 11th, one of Hammon’s players, two-time champion Pau Gasol, penned a brilliant open lettercampaigning for Hammon to become a head coach in the NBA. As more players adopt the open mindset that Gasol possesses, the opportunities for women to show their true sports intelligence will grow.

Women know sports. If you want to win games, the best candidates should be hired and celebrated. Open your eyes, NBA.

Cover Image Credit: Instagram

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A Thank You Letter To The Best Teammate I've Ever Had

There's no "I" in team.
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We all have those amazing memories when it comes to sports. Sometimes it is from winning tough games, but most of the amazing memories that we have come from the teammates that we shared those wins with. Teammates are the people who you spend so much time with that you eventually become a family. Teammates do more than help just win a game; they can be there through everything. There's always that one teammate that stands out from the rest, and this letter is for you.

Thank you for being selfless.

Looking back, I remember a lot of teammates. Some were great and some were not that great. I've had teammates who have only cared about their playing time. I've had teammates that have only cared about if they score more goals or more points than anyone else. You did not care about that. If the coach told you to play a position that you did not want to play, you still played it without a complaint. If I was tired at a certain position and wanted to switch you, you did it. You never complained about where you were playing or how many goals you had; you just wanted the team to win.

Thank you for having my back.

The best kinds of teammates are the ones that support you no matter what you do. I got a red card? That referee is stupid. I got into a fist fight during a game? You were the first one next to me swinging. Some girl makes fun of me on social media for messing up in a game? You were roasting her in her mentions. Even if I was right or wrong, you always supported me no matter what I did.

Thank you for seeing me at my worst and building me back up.

There are always times in an athlete's life where we run to the point to where we need to throw up. There are times where we go through games and miss too many shots. There are times where we get a little too mad at our coaches and feel as if we cannot deal with it anymore. You were the one that got me through it. When I was in the middle of a run and my lungs were burning, you stayed right next to me and reminded me that there wasn't much longer to go, even if there was. You always reminded me how capable I was by yelling at me and telling me to go score. You've seen me tired, sweaty, crying, screaming and throwing up. After all that, you still went out of your way to build me back up and I cannot thank you enough for that.

Thank you for making me love the game.

Without people like you, I would have had a very rough ride through my sports career. I have had teammates that have made me go home crying because they were so mean and rude. I have had teammates who have only cared about themselves. Without you, I would've forgotten what a good teammate is. Looking back, all I remember is the celebrations, the screaming random songs in cars and us hating each other's exes automatically... Then talking about all these things at practice. Thanks for being a leader with me. Without you and the rest of the team, I would not have loved the sport that I played.

Cover Image Credit: Cheap Seats Photography

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The Excitement Of The NBA Playoffs Without Lebron James

The NBA playoffs are among us and it is my favorite time of the year. The time for the NBA to shine is the playoffs, but this year's rating has seen a bit of decline.

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The NBA playoffs are a very exciting time for the typical NBA fan and I sure love nothing more than to kick back and watch the action. The excitement and the number of games on are unreal and they start one after another so every game can be watched without another one interfering with the other. The games have so much more than typical basketball and people are disappointed this year because Lebron James missed the playoffs for the first time since 2005. The last 14 years he has been dominating the NBA playoffs and this year was different so the ratings are plummeting.

The series are a best of 7 making it a long fun series of games with so much on the line. I have watched many of the games and highlights and have truly appreciated the greatness I am watching. The lower seeded teams have been doing well against the best teams and are giving them a run for the money. We have had a few fun blowout games that are interesting because you are seeing a team dominate the entire game and hit many great shots and make big plays. The good teams are still winning most of the games, but at least we have some close games that come down to the buzzer to make for great competition.

We then have young stars like Damian Lillard and Ben Simmons who have been giving us some amazing stat lines and leading their team to big first-round wins and both making huge highlights so far. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, and James Harden have been the big stars having great games and contributing heavily to both their teams and the ratings to make the playoffs fun. Even without Lebron, these guys are still showing us how fun basketball is to watch and play.

The style of team basketball many of these guys are playing with is amazing to watch. I am all about teamwork and there is a new player doing something spectacular and having a standout game every night with the help of their team. The Los Angeles Clippers rallied for the biggest playoff comeback in NBA history by coming back from 31 down against the defending champions the Golden State Warriors. It is nice to see teams like the Clippers, Magic, and Pacers who do not have a standout star play great team basketball. These teams are losing most of their games, but they do not have the talent these other teams have. They are going out and playing well as a team every single night and working to make sure everyone is contributing on offense and defense to have a chance to win.

Damian Lillard even hit a buzzer beater to win the series over the Thunder the other night and it shows us how much of an impact one player can have on the whole game. The excitement of the upcoming free agency period is vastly hyped, but the current teams are so well set up for success that the next 2 rounds of the playoffs will be the ultimate tests for all teams to see who will play each other for the championship.

Everyone thinks the Warriors will once again host the NBA Larry O'Brien Trophy and be the top team in the league for the next year, but there are a few teams that have been quite impressive all season and have the momentum in their favor just as much as the defending champions. There will be plenty of big games to come and I am positive the players will put on a huge showing to make these playoffs memorable for all true NBA fans. Lebron is my favorite player of all time and I love watching him play especially in the finals for the title, but the ratings should still be high due to the great competitive game of basketball and the amazing moments we get to enjoy all throughout the playoffs. I encourage any basketball fan to tune in for these games and I promise you will not be disappointed with any of the games.

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