Black women are making boss moves and breaking barriers in the realm of sports. According to Black Enterprise, former WNBA player Lisa Willis has been tapped to become the assistant coach of the G League Westchester Knicks; making her the first woman to hold a coaching position in the New York Knicks franchise’s history.
The Long Beach, California native entered the WNBA in 2006. During her tenure in the league, she had stints with the Los Angeles Sparks and the New York Liberty. The UCLA alum, who has set several records at the Los Angeles-based university, has also competed overseas in Russia, Greece, Turkey, Latvia. Although she retired in 2010 following a knee injury, she stayed dedicated to her passion for the sport and started coaching. Last season she served as the head girls basketball coach for T.C. Williams High School in Virginia.
Willis is humbled by the appointment and believes that it’s a step in the right direction when it comes to gender diversity in basketball. “Men and women are different, absolutely. But that doesn’t mean we [women] can’t do the same things they do. It’s not an issue of better but different – different methods and different outlooks. As a woman, I didn’t want to be brought in so the Knicks could check off a box. What matters is whether I’m qualified,” she told The Washington Informer. “Sometimes I became angry or sad when doors through which I wanted to enter were closed. But my faith told me that there were other doors that I’d find open. The Knicks have opened a door for me. Now, it’s my responsibility to do a phenomenal job and make sure that door stays open for others – other women – to enter.”
She joins the coaching staff along with Allen Deep. The Westchester Knicks are excited to bring Willis on board. “Lisa has had the benefit of playing professionally and winning at the highest levels. Given Lisa’s acumen for the game, there is no doubt in my mind that her transition to the sideline will be seamless,” said head coach Derrick Alston in a statement.
There are currently less than 15 women coaches in the NBA.