CAL COACH GOTTLIEB JOINING CAVALIERS
In a stunning move, coach Lindsay Gottlieb is leaving the Cal women’s basketball team to become an assistant coach with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The eight-year Bears head coach on Wednesday became the first women’s head coach to be summoned from the collegiate ranks and onto an NBA staff.
The 41-year-old Gottlieb will receive a four-year contract to join new Cavaliers coach John Beilein’s staff, as first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. She and JB Bickerstaff will be the top assistants for Beilein, who left the University of Michigan to coach a Cavaliers team that finished at 19-63, the secondworst record in the NBA.
Gottlieb, who said she loves Cal and wasn’t looking to leap to the NBA or anywhere, first met Cavs general manager Koby Altman through a friend of her’s in the NBA. The two talked on the phone and then met last month at the NBA’s pre-draft camp in Chicago.
“I thought it would be more of a high-level, where’s the NBA going with women ...,” Gottlieb said Wednesday. “He looked at me and he said, ‘We just hired coach (John) Beilein. We want to build an organization with the Cavaliers that’s about culture and bettering players and building through development. We want to put the best staff together and we want you to be on that staff. I was blown away.”
Gottlieb knew the impact of her joining the Cavaliers could have not only for her and her family, but for women in general.
“The opportunity to be in the NBA, which has been a lifelong dream, but more so to join an organization that had a vision that included me ... it just was a life-changing opportunity,” she said. “And also one that down the road will impact many, many people.”
Gottlieb sees what’s happening in the NBA and she’s thrilled to be part of it.
“It’s no secret that (commissioner) Adam Silver and the NBA are pushing to get equality in the league,” she said. “That being said, the Cavs’ organization and how they approached this, is forwardthinking even for a forwardthinking league. What they presented and how they presented it was nothing like I had ever heard anyone else do. For me it’s about, first and foremost, being part of a team, being part of a coaching staff and the mission of getting done what we want to get done.
“But I would be lying if I didn’t also acknowledge there is this bigger thing to it,” Gottlieb added. “My feeling is someone has to leave an unbelievable, Power 5 head-coaching job to go be an assistant (in the NBA) so somewhere else down the line (Notre Dame coach) Muffet McGraw goes straight from being a (college women’s) head coach to being an NBA head coach, if she wanted to. You have to make leaps in order for people to see it could happen. So, do I feel pressure? No. But I do think someone has to do something hard and scary for the next person to be able to do something. And I’m aware of that.
“A lot of people have texted me today that their daughters are going to grow up now seeing women on the bench in the NBA, believing that that’s normal, because it is.”
While losing Gottlieb stings Cal, Bears athletic director Jim Knowlton expressed the school’s gratitude to her for building an elite program in Berkeley.