Jan 17, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; The Toronto Raptors logo at center court before the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Timberwolves 94-89. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Should Toronto Raptors Seek a Female Coach?

Should the Toronto Raptors pursue their own Becky Hammon?

This week, the San Antonio Spurs made headlines by hiring the first full-time, paid woman as an assistant coach. It created a little buzz… well, only if you consider shout-outs from Barack Obama, Chelsea Clinton, Billie Jean King and Cover Girl to be “a little buzz.”

Congratulations poured in from the NBA as well. Damian Lillard and Austin Daye tweeted their approval of the move, while coach Gregg Popovich has gone on record as a big fan on Hammon.

So, what does the Hammon hire mean for the Raptors?

Answer Number 1 – Buzz

If the tweets above tell us anything, hiring a woman as part of the coaching staff for the Raptors would create buzz.

For his part, Tim Leiweke (MLSE CEO and President) craves the creation of buzz for his teams. The Toronto Maple Leafs brought in high profile Brendan Shanahan to make “cultural changes.” Jermaine Defoe and Michael Bradley were swept onto the pitch for Toronto FC and created major buzz for Toronto’s beleaguered soccer club.

May 4, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey and musical artist Drake celebrate a basket by the Raptors against the Brooklyn Nets in game seven of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

May 4, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey and musical artist Drake celebrate a basket by the Raptors against the Brooklyn Nets in game seven of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

As for the Raptors, hiring Drake as a “global ambassador” was a trendy and splashy move. The “We The North” campaign, spearheaded by Leiweke, dominated the Toronto sports scene as the Raptors battled the Brooklyn Nets in last season’s playoffs. Would hiring a Canadian woman as a Raptors assistant coach fit in with Leiweke’s typical sense of splashiness?

It sure would.

Answer #2 – Marketplace Appeal

We have a marketplace that is booming right in front of us and we have to become that team they all relate to. We have to be that team they want to play for, and we have to be that team they want to follow.

Tim Leiweke speaking to USA Today

Leiweke has marketed these Raptors carefully. By rebranding the team as “Canada’s team” and highlighting the international appeal of Toronto, the Raptors are intent on being an inclusive and forward-thinking team.

Hiring a woman as part of the Raptors coaching staff would be dramatically inclusive and forward-thinking in a league with only one other female coach. Is there any better way to continue seizing the booming Toronto basketball market?

Answer #3 – Kim Smith

Recently retired Kim Smith could be the perfect fit. She just retired from the WNBA and is taking one last spin with the Canada women’s team as part mentor, part player. Hailing from British Columbia, she combines Canadian ties with high-level basketball experience. Oh, and she’d help to break down the gender barrier, too.

Time to have your say, Raptors fans. What do you think?

Should the Toronto Raptors go after a female coach?

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Tags: Becky Hammon Kim Smith Tim Leiweke Toronto Raptors

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