Celtics assistant coach Kara Lawson

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Kara Lawson: ‘I don’t want to be the best of my gender, I want to be the best in the league’

Nick Friar
July 03, 2019 - 4:49 pm

The Celtics made the official announcement on Wednesday that they’d hired Joe Mazzulla, Kara Lawson and Brandon Bailey as assistant coaches. Lawson’s hiring was a historical one for the franchise, making her the first female coach in the team’s history. She’s now the third female coach in the NBA, joining San Antonio’s Becky Hammon and Cleveland’s Lindsey Gottlieb.


While she understands the significance of her hiring, Lawson expressed after Celtics Summer League practice on Wednesday she hasn’t spent much time thinking about the dynamic. Her focus is on doing her job better than anyone — male or female. 

“I haven’t really gone that far in my head. I mean, I’ve definitely gotten a lot of texts and calls from people that it’s impacting them,” Lawson said. “My mindset is: being the first to do something is great,” she said. “I want to be the best. And I don’t want to be the best of my gender, I want to be the best in the league. Obviously, that’s easy to say when you’re on your fifth day. I got a lot to learn and I got a steep mountain to climb

“But I don’t like qualifiers when it comes to judging things. So every time someone talks about me I don’t want it to be about my gender, at least when it comes in the confines of the competitive environment. Obviously from the outside, from a societal standpoint, that’s going to happen because it’s unusual still. Hopefully, it won’t be unusual down the road. But that’s a responsibility I think everyone that’s been in this position before has to do well, so that it’s no longer unusual.”

The Celtics weren’t the first team to reach out to Lawson about an assistant coaching gig. But the former WNBA All-Star wasn’t going to jump into a situation just for the sake of getting her career started. Lawson was waiting for the right opportunity to present itself.

“I think ‘fit’ is really important. I think it’s important when you’re a player. I think it’s really important when you’re a coach,” Lawson said. There’s a lot of similarities to being a player and coach in that sense, in terms of ‘fit.’ For me, this was a good fit,” she said. “I wanted to go somewhere where I’d be challenged. 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, kind of that last frontier of coaching which is being able to do it in pressure situations in the regular season and then the playoffs.

“When I talked to Brad in a number of different conversations, I felt, from a personality standpoint, that he was going to be a good fit for me as I start off doing this,” she said. "I think it’s important when you start off as a rookie that you’re surrounded by a good group, by a knowledgeable group, and by a good leader. And Brad checked all those boxes for me.”

Lawson and Boston’s 2019 Draft Class will get their first taste of in-game action on Saturday when the Celtics Summer League team gets rolling in Las Vegas against the 76ers Summer League squad.