Earlier this week, the Toronto Raptors hired Brittni Donaldson to be an assistant on Nick Nurse’s coaching staff.
While Brittni Donaldson isn’t the first female assistant coach to be hired in the NBA, she is certainly the youngest. At only 26 years old, Ujiri let her transfer from her front office role to the pinewood bench to support Nurse and the Toronto Raptors coaching staff.
According to ESPN, Donaldson is the fifth female assistant coach hired just this summer. Meanwhile, she is the tenth female assistant currently employed in the NBA.
Interestingly, Donaldson seems to have taken a different route to end up as an assistant compared to other female assistants. Donaldson grew up playing basketball and played in college, but she didn’t play professionally nor has a long history of coaching so far.
In fact, Donaldson was more or less analyzing data and producing information for the team to utilize. Yet, Donaldson found ways to remain in touch with the game and oftentimes helped out the players on the court for workouts and warm-ups. She was one of the first people to work with Marc Gasol upon his arrival to the team by showing him plays that the Raptors used.
The hire, in turn, represents an upward trend of hiring female assistants to the NBA and may show the future of the NBA, where coaches come from all walks of life with all types of backgrounds. Additionally, it shows a trend of analytics being taken seriously in hires, which is a far cry from only a couple of decades ago.
Nowadays, it seems the first female head-coaching hire is coming sooner rather than later. There are many eligible candidates awaiting the call and, of course, the right position. Surely the first hire will be careful in choosing the job and opportunity. Masai Ujiri is in agreement.
“One hundred percent, the time is coming. that is going to happen,” he says to Zach Lowe of ESPN.
Basketball has always seemed to be ahead of the curve when it comes to inclusion and diversity. After the female hires have continued to rise, it seems that the sport is still finding ways to diversify.
And, why shouldn’t it?
The players and the coaches of the NBA are so publicly figured in the game; they aren’t hidden behind helmets or facemasks or the like. Basketball promotes diversity simply by having so many diverse employees across its teams and a female marching along the sideline is just as significant as a black player trotting down the court.
More importantly, it seems that the NBA is continuing to treat people in the game how they should be treated: The best fit for the job gets hired–and it doesn’t matter what you look like as long as you have the wherewithal to back it up.
While the NFL has had its divisive issues in recent years, the NBA seems to keep building upon its already sturdy ground. Everyone should be keeping an eye on the NBA for standards in a professional league going forward.