Character and Destiny Have Led Lindsey Harding to Join the Ranks of the NBA’s Female Coaches

It’s already obvious that by hiring Nancy Lieberman, the Sacramento King owners, management, coaches and even the players are a supportive, progressive group. Add to this the fact that they hired another female coach last year, and the level of respect this organization deserves goes way, way up.

Lindsey Harding has a basketball resume that will make your jaw drop. She began making jaws drop when she played for Duke from 2002; she made All-ACC Freshman Team her first year, was an Honorable Mention Kodak and Associated Press All-American during her junior year, and finished her college career with 1,298 points. This made her the sixth ACC player to reach 1,000 points, among other milestones. She was named the Naismith College Player of the Year in 2007, and in 2008 became the second female from the Blue Devils to have her jersey number retired.

The WNBA came calling in 2007 and Lindsey found herself playing for the Minnesota Lynx. In fact, she was their number one overall pick for the draft.  Not surprisingly, she made the league’s All-Rookie team at the end of the season.

After a few solid seasons with the Lynx, Harding moved on to play with the Washington Mystics and had a fantastic first season: she averaged 12.8 points and 4.6 assists per game. She was traded to the Atlanta Dream in 2011 where she became a starting point guard and fought with her new team to make her first appearance in the WNBA Finals. Unfortunately, she and the Dream were swept by her former team, the Mystics, in 3 games.

For the next few years, Harding jumped around a bit, signing with the LA Sparks in 2013, the NY Liberty in 2016, and with the Phoenix Mercury later that same year. After the Mercury played and were eliminated by the Lynx in the semifinals, Lindsey Harding announced her retirement from the WNBA.

Don’t let this little summary fool you, though. Harding did so much more than simply play with the WNBA during her years as a pro basketball player. Turkey recruited her to play for their Mersin BB in the Turkish Basketball Third League during the 2008-9 offseason, and she then played for Lituania’s VICI Aistes Kaunas in the 2009-10 offseason. She then moved on to play in Russia and for several teams in Turkey throughout the off-seasons of 2012-17.

On top of all this, in 2015 she was asked to play for the Belarus women’s national team. Once she obtained the correct passport, she not only played for the team but helped lead them to a fourth-place finish in the EuroBasket Women tournament.

No time was wasted after Harding’s WNBA retirement in 2017. She spent the following summer as an assistant coach for the Toronto Raptors’ summer league team and then spent time in the NBA’s Basketball Operations Associate Program before the Philadelphia Sixers hired as a scout for the 2017-18 season.

Lindsey Harding became the first African American female to occupy this position full time. She was then promoted to player development coach in early 2019. According to Adam Herman of the PhillyVoice, the Sixer’s general manager Elton Brand stated that Lindsey’s knowledge of the game is “impeccable” and that he had no delusions that she would stay at the player-development level for much longer. He was absolutely right, and Harding accepted her new position with the Sacramento Kings only a few months later.

It was an exciting day when Harding was named to the Sacramento Kings’ coaching staff just last year. Head coach Luke Walton said that “Lindsey is a rising star and I’m so excited to have her join our incredibly experienced team of coaches.” Obviously, with the rise of COVID-19 and the resulting season suspension and uncertainty, Harding’s time with the Kings hasn’t really been off to a great start.

However, we’re sure that her future with Sacramento – and the NBA as a whole – is a blindingly bright one. Harding told NBC Sports that she has never been worried about working with male basketball players. “The question is always, ‘Will the guys respect you? Can [women] coach men?’ But when you get [to the NBA], the guys aren’t the problem at all. That’s the most fun part.” She has also explained that a key aspect of her coaching philosophy is to encourage the power of positive thinking. “You don’t want players to underestimate their power. You have control. You have that power. Thoughts become words. Words become actions. Actions become habits. Habits become character. Your character becomes your destiny.”

Lindsey Harding’s character has most definitely proven to be her destiny. And her destiny is to continue making strides within the NBA.

For more thoughts and opinions from Melanie, check out her author page.

Image Source: AP Images

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