Duke women's basketball coach Kara Lawson went in-depth discussing her career in an AMA session with Bleacher Report on Wednesday.
The former WNBA star and Olympic gold medalist has spent the past three years rising through the coaching ranks, including time as an assistant with the Boston Celtics and now head coach of the Blue Devils. The 40-year-old Tennessee graduate is now reportedly a candidate to replace Brad Stevens as coach of the Celtics, per Jared Weiss of The Athletic.
Lawson discussed the Celtics, her coaching career, former Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and much more with B/R users.
The following is the full transcript from the AMA session.
@JDog44: Why did you become a coach?
I actually wanted to be a coach since when I was young. I played all sports, not just basketball since when i was a kid. I always admired the coaches I had and thought it would be really cool to teach other people. I didn’t know where i wanted coach. When I got more familiarity with the collegiate level/professional level, i thought that could be a fit too.
@kool: When did you first fall in love with basketball?
My best friend had a hoop. He had a flat driveway, I had a slanted driveway. We used to play every day. That’s when I fell in love with the game, just playing with my friends. I loved watching on television too. I grew up in the Jordan era so I loved watching MJ. There wasn’t a WNBA, there was women’s college, but it wasn’t on TV. I just fell in love with the game, out in the yard, out in the driveway.
@allorangeandblue: What is the biggest lesson you plan on teaching your players?
The biggest responsibility of helping shape young women is empowering their minds to know they can accomplish anything in life. At Duke, we have some pretty amazing young minds. Some young women who are quite literally going to change the world. So to have an impact on them at this stage is a powerful responsibility.
@zeropython: What was it like coaching Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown?
JT and JB are incredible young men. Just solid all around with their approach, with their professionalism. Just as good as it gets. They’re pretty easy to relate to. They work on their game constantly. They just keep growing. Their trajectory hasn’t slowed down yet. It was really fun watching them this season as they both got to the All-Star status.
@Saintsguy1341: If offered, would you take the Celtics job?
I’ve done really well in my career by focusing on myself in the moment. I loved my time in Boston. I loved coaching those players. It was a special time in my life. The speculation, you can chase a lot of rabbits down a lot of holes.
@jshaffer33: What is your favorite coaching memory from any team you had the opportunity to work with?
The first practice, I ever led. I didn’t know what I was doing. I knew basketball, but the first time you’re a coach, it’s nerve-racking. It’s humble beginnings for all of us. That’s my first team. We were talking about it at dinner, and I told them it was the first practice I ever coached and they had no idea. With that team, we won the world cup in China. I remember walking behind them after we won, we were going back to the bus. One of the USA staff members asked me how it felt winning as a player vs. coach and I realized it actually felt better to win as a coach. The best thing about basketball is playing the game, but the best feeling I’ve had is watching my players achieve their dreams. I always thought my self achievement would be my favorite, but then when I got into coaching it shifted.
@hbraz98: What is your vision for the future of women’s college basketball?
My vision for our program is to be one of the elite programs in the country. When someone asks you about women’s college basketball, there are a set of schools that pop into your head. The same three or four are always in that conversation so we want Duke to be recognized not just by diehard women’s college basketball fans, but by casual sports fans. We want people to recognize our excellence. Women’s basketball continues to grow, so hopefully that continues to happen - WNBA as well. I think we’re seeing a nice growth spurt and interest for our sport.
@abdulrahim1: What advice do you have for girls that may have been doubted in the world of sports?
The thing about doubt, one it never go away. When you’re fighting that, you’re fighting a losing battle. The doubt at times is useful, but it can’t be the only thing you do. It’s important to know it’s inevitable, people are going to doubt you and it’s healthy to use that as fuel, but it can’t be the only thing that fuels you. You need to give energy to your believers too. Don’t be surprised when doubt happens, but use it and channel it in the right way and make sure it’s not the only reason you’re trying to do things.
@JourneyMelvin: How did it feel when you found out Coach K retired?
Coach K is a legend in our sport, really in our country -- when you look at the impact he’s had on the game. I was fortunate enough to be coached by Pat Summitt, who is every bit as accomplished and impactful as Coach K was in the sport of basketball so I have a great respect for the impact he’s had, similar to the impact my college coach has. I have a lot of respect for what he’s been able to do over time. It’s hard to do something once, it’s really difficult to do it over four decades and to do it at that high level. To think about doing this for four decades and doing it at a really high level is such a high bar probably that nobody’s gonna reach. I’m excited to have another year to be around him to watch him coach and teach. I hope this last year is going to be memorable for him, one where he can be celebrated appropriately by Duke fans, by non Duke fans, really by basketball fans for what he’s meant to the game.
Favorite non-basketball athlete?
Next place you want to travel?
Japan for the Olympics - our 3 V 3 team qualified
Who wins this year’s NBA title?
The piece of advice to your younger self is ____
Just don’t stress about where you think everything is going to go. It’s going to end up fine. There are moments in your career where you feel stuck, but it will work out the way it is supposed to but it doesn’t happen how you plan on all the time.