Lodi News-Sentinel - - SPORTS - By Jon Becker

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.

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