Kara Lawson has done it all in the game of basketball, having played in the WNBA, broadcasted NBA games on TV, and now is a coach for the Boston Celtics.
Lawson played college basketball for the University of Tennessee, coached by the legendary Pat Summitt. At the age of 20, Lawson won a gold medal at the 2001 Beijing University Games as a member of the women’s US basketball team. In her four years in Tennessee, Lawson appeared in three Final Fours.
The point guard started her WNBA career with the now-defunct Sacramento Monarchs in 2003. Lawson won a championship with the Monarchs in 2005. In 2008, she won a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics.
Lawson signed a three-year contract with the Connecticut Sun in 2010. In March 2014, Lawson was traded to the Washington Mystics for Alex Bentley. She retired from playing after the 2015 season. For her career, she averaged 9.8 points, 2.5 assists, and 2.6 rebounds.
While still playing in the WNBA, Lawson served as a studio analyst for the Sacramento Kings and broadcasted the NBA and WNBA for ESPN. In 2007, Lawson was the first woman to work as a nationwide broadcast analyst in an NBA game, when the New Orleans Hornets played the Washington Wizards.
In 2017, Lawson became the primary television game analyst for the Washington Wizards, becoming one of a few female analysts.
In June 2019, Lawson was hired to be an assistant coach for the Boston Celtics, leaving her job as the Wizards primary TV analyst. As a coach on Brad Stevens bench, Lawson scouts the other team’s defenses and helps during film sessions.
Lawson had been familiar with Stevens before she joined the Celtics organization.
“I just got a phone call from Brad, or a text from Brad I guess, out of the blue for me,” Lawson told the Boston Herald. “I knew Brad having covered his teams. I covered his team at Butler when I worked at ESPN, obviously covered him in the playoffs a couple of times with ESPN radio, but yeah I just got a text from him, he asked if I had a few minutes to chat, and that’s what started the process.”
Stevens speaks very highly of Lawson, telling The Athletic, “Her communication is off the charts. I mean, it’s as high a level as anybody. She’s able to communicate a lot in very concise thoughts. I don’t know if it’s all that training at ESPN. I have heard her talk about (former Tennessee coach Pat Summit’s) influence on her in that regard. She’s a special communicator.”
“I wanted to go somewhere where I’d be challenged,” Lawson told reporters when she got hired. “I wanted to go somewhere where I’d be allowed to coach. And I wanted to go to an organization that was going to be playing in big games to be able to get a sense of that last frontier of coaching, which is being able to do it in pressure situations in the regular season and the playoffs.”
During Lawson’s first year with the Celtics, the team had gone an excellent 43-21 before the season was put on pause in March.
Marcus Smart has nothing but good words to say about Coach Lawson.
Smart told The Athletic, “When you’re going on a hot streak, she makes sure she keeps you down as humble but also praises you at the same time. She’s very insightful. She does her homework. She really studies the game. When you’re talking to her, you really talk to her about anything and different situations and she could tell you exactly what you need to know. It’s ridiculous. It is. She’s unbelievable, man. She’s a big key add to this organization.”
Kara Lawson is a real basketball Renaissance woman and stateswoman who has been to the Final Four three times, won a WNBA championship, won a gold medal at the Olympics, first woman on TV to broadcast an NBA game as an analyst, and the fourth woman ever hired to coach in the NBA.
Kara Lawson may be a potential candidate for the NBA’s first female head coach down the road.
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