The general public may not respect the WNBA but those within the basketball community definitely appreciate what the ladies bring to the table. The NBA, as well as some of its biggest stars, has always been vocal about its support of the WNBA and they have backed up that support with actions. The Spurs hired Becky Hammon onto their staff and even let her take the reins during Summer League. Now they’ve taken it a step further and welcomed Kristi Toliver to the coaching ranks as she will join the Wizards bench this upcoming season.
But even more than the NBA’s commitment to uplifting and supporting the women’s game, I think this speaks more to Toliver’s drive and passion towards the game of basketball. This is something that needs to be commended and celebrated. She is giving up her off-season to deepen her understanding of the game and set herself up for a career after her playing days are over. Toliver is taking a huge and courageous step because there will still be some simpletons who will have negative things to say. But I have no doubts she will do well despite any negativity that may come her way. There are a lot more people in support of her than those that are against her.
More than anything, I feel like this will be a catalyst for the mindset around the women’s game being changed forever. As I said before, those who are really involved in basketball know and understand the value of the WNBA and women’s basketball in general. There are still those who feel like it’s an inferior product and these ladies do not deserve the respect they have earned. But now, you will have a dilemma. If you’re one of these guys who have trashed the women’s game, you could now find yourself face to face with one of the players you degraded. I doubt that Toliver is a petty woman but I have a good feeling that if she comes across one of these guys who decided to be funny on Twitter and make “go back to the kitchen” jokes, she is going to take pleasure in grinding them into dust.
All in all, this is a great opportunity for Kristi and I have no doubts she will do well in her new role. This will help her as a player as well. Being able to see things from the other side is going to certainly allow her to develop as a point guard and have some different insight into how she approaches the game. I’m excited to see her grow and blossom in her new role and how it expands her game on the court next season.