G-League COTY Lindsey Harding: ‘Hiring a woman is not a risk’

Apr 4, 2024, 9:02 AM

Sacramento Kings Assistant Coach for Player Development Lindsey Harding looks on during the warm up...

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 24: Sacramento Kings Assistant Coach for Player Development Lindsey Harding looks on during the warm up before the game against the Denver Nuggets at Golden 1 Center on February 24, 2022 in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

Last season, Bobby Jackson led Sacramento’s G-League affiliate, the Stockton Kings, as their head coach. After Jackson joined Nick Nurse’s staff on the Philadelphia 76ers in the offseason, the Kings hired internally with Lindsey Harding, who was an assistant on their main club at the time.

Stockton secured the best record in the G League last season (25-7) before falling to the Sioux Falls Skyforce in their first postseason showdown — the G-League playoffs feature single elimination games. Under Harding in 2023-24, Stockton has repeated their regular season success with a 24-10 record, sitting at the top of the league and earning a bye in the first round.

Due to their standout success amidst complications, Lindsey Harding was named the G League Coach of the Year, breaking barriers as the first woman to receive that award.

“Normally, it’s just basketball,” she said. “These guys don’t think about me being a woman or not. But, when you really step back and think about it, I didn’t grow up seeing someone who looked like me doing this at all. I’m here doing it because I love the game, and I have the right support system around me to give me an opportunity.”

Coaching in the G-League comes with constant roster changes. It’s the nature of the role. Keon Ellis, who Harding worked closely with in Sacramento last season and started the year on a two-way contract, anticipated playing a handful of games with Stockton this season, but he impressed enough to earn a standard deal with the main club.

Jordan Ford and Jalen Slawson could be pulled between Sacramento and Stockton at any moment. Once Ellis had been promoted, Mason Jones was added to the equation. Some teams have given Jaylen Nowell 10-day deals. Stanley Johnson, Skal Labissiere, Shabazz Muhammad, and Deonte Burton have all played on NBA rosters, and they, just like every other player, are trying to earn a promotion to the NBA in Harding’s system.

“She deserves to be wherever she wants to be, in the G-League or the NBA,” Slawson said Wednesday afternoon. Sacramento head coach Mike Brown took the time to congratulate Lindsey Harding before their recent home matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers.

“It’s well deserved,” Brown said. “Great things continue to happen to the Kings organization, and it’s fun to just be a part of.”

Harding is one of the first examples of an NBA G-League head coach and the first to be awarded Coach of the Year honors. She hopes that her success functions as an example to the rest of the basketball world that ‘hiring a woman is not a risk.’

From being the first overall pick in the 2007 WNBA Draft to now NBA G League Coach of the Year, Harding continues to be a pioneer, setting an example and breaking barriers for the upcoming generations.

In the meantime, her Stockton team is onto the postseason. They’re looking to avenge last season’s early playoff exit, starting with Thursday night’s single-elimination matchup against the Santa Cruz Warriors.

When is the next Sacramento Kings game?

Sacramento will travel to the East Coast for a four-game trip that begins on Thursday night against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

The Kings and Knicks battled it out at Golden 1 Center on March 16th, with New York doing enough to scrape out a 98-91 win in a game that saw Sacramento nearly post a season-low in field goal percentage (35%) while also struggling from deep (27%).

Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Knicks coverage, beginning at 3:00 PM PST on Game Night before a 4:30 PM PST tip-off from New York City.

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Upcoming Schedule

  • Thursday, April 4th – Sacramento Kings @ New York Knicks – 4:30 PM PST
  • Friday, April 5th – Sacramento Kings @ Boston Celtics – 4:30 PM PST
  • Sunday, April 7th – Sacramento Kings @ Brooklyn Nets – 4:30 PM PST
  • Tuesday, April 9th – Sacramento Kings @ Oklahoma City Thunder – 5:00 PM PST
  • Thursday, April 11th – Sacramento Kings vs. New Orleans Pelicans – 7:00 PM PST

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