A groundbreaking step for women coaches has been made by the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers and newly minted head coach John Beilein as they hired Lindsay Gottlieb — the first Division I women’s basketball coach to their staff.
This is a historic hire for the NBA, as Gottlieb is the first collegiate women’s head coach to be recruited. She signed a four-year contract after she spent eight years at the helm at the University of California, Berkeley.
In her eight years at the University of California Berkeley, she led the Golden Bears to a combined 179-89 (.668) record (86-58, .597 in Pac-12) since taking over the helm in 2011-12. Her 179 wins are the second-most by any head coach in Cal women’s basketball history.
“I am very thankful, proud and excited to be joining the Cavaliers as an Assistant Coach,” Gottlieb said in a statement.
“After meeting with Koby Altman, Coach Beilein, and Coach Bickerstaff, I knew this was an organization I wanted to be a part of and a team I wanted to dedicate myself to. While this move provided a unique and special chance to move directly from Cal Berkeley and women’s college basketball to the NBA, it was really about being part of building and growing something special and adding value to a team and organization that is focused on doing things in a way that I believe strongly in.”
Gottlieb joined Jenny Boucek, Kristi Toliver, and Swin Cash who have followed trailblazer Becky Hammon into the men’s game. Hammon was hired by the San Antonio Spurs five years ago.
The hire has a far-reaching impact on both the NBA and the women-coaching sisterhood. NBA commissioner Adam Silver had made it a priority for the NBA and its members’ teams to hire more women in positions of coaching, administration and officiating.
Gottlieb started her career at Syracuse before helping Richmond reach the NCAA Tournament. After her success at Richmond, she stepped onto the campus at Berkeley for the first time. She rose up the ladder at Cal to become an associate head coach before taking her first taking head coaching job at USCB.
Even though she is sad to say goodbye to her Bears, Gottlieb knows the impact that this move could have on millions of girls.
“It was an incredibly forward-thinking way of saying, ‘For us to be as good as we can be, we need different thought processes,’ and they value what I’m going to bring to the table,” said Gottlieb.