Former WNBA star and the No.1 pick of the 2007 WNBA draft Lindsey Harding, made history on Friday night as she debuted as the head coach of the Stockton Kings in the G League opener against the Santa Cruz Warriors. The occasion marked her as the only woman currently serving as the head coach of an American men's professional basketball team, reported Joe Vardon of The Athletic.
The game took place at the Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz, where Harding's Stockton Kings faced the Santa Cruz Warriors. Although the Kings ultimately fell short with a final score of 125-114 in favor of Santa Cruz, it was an eventful evening that showcased Harding's leadership and determination.
Harding, 39, is no stranger to the world of basketball. She had a standout collegiate career at Duke University, where she earned the prestigious Naismith Player of the Year award in 2007. That same year, she was drafted as the first overall pick by the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA Draft. With her remarkable skills and basketball IQ, she quickly became a household name in women's basketball.
In recent years, Harding has transitioned into the coaching realm. Prior to her appointment as head coach of the Stockton Kings, she served as an assistant coach for Sacramento, the parent organization of the G League team. Additionally, she has been the head coach of the Mexican women's national team and previously held the same role for the South Sudan women's team. Duke retired her No. 10 jersey.
Lindsey Harding's journey to becoming the head coach of a men's professional basketball team reflects the increasing opportunities for women in the NBA and its affiliated leagues. While women coaching in the NBA remains relatively rare, notable figures like Becky Hammon have paved the way by serving as top assistants and, in Hammon's case, even stepping in as head coach for a game.
Harding's accomplishment carries special significance as she becomes the first woman to be a head coach in the G League since its transformation in 2017, when it adopted its current name and structure. Prior to that, the league was known as the D-League, and Nancy Lieberman was the only woman to serve as a head coach for the Texas Legends (Dallas Mavericks) from 2009 to 2011.
In Division I men's college basketball, there are no female head coaches, but ex-WNBA player Tamara Moore coaches the men's team at Mesabi Range College, a junior college in Minnesota.