NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is putting the onus on himself to ensure the league features the first woman head coach in its history.
Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN passed along comments about the issue from Silver, who's confident he can help the idea become reality in the not-too-distant future.
"There definitely will," he said. "And I think it is on me to sort of ensure that it happens sooner rather than later."
Silver told the outlet there's "absolutely no reason" a woman can't handle an NBA head coaching role and noted the league is "very focused" on making it happen.
He referenced assistant coaches Becky Hammon of the San Antonio Spurs and Nancy Lieberman of the Sacramento Kings as well as Los Angeles Clippers assistant video coordinator Natalie Nakase as women "in the pipeline" who could eventually break the glass ceiling, per ESPN:
First of all, let me say that I disagree that there will not be a woman head coach in the NBA. It is hard to say exactly when (it will happen). There are three women currently in the pipeline, and I think like we have seen in all other aspects of life, while there are certain cases for example, the athletes that participate in the NBA, there are obvious physical difference between men and women and those differences are why we have a men's league and a women's league.
Hammon, who became an assistant with San Antonio in 2014 after a decorated WNBA career, is already a championship-winning coach after leading the Spurs' Summer League team to a title in 2015. She also became the first female All-Star Game assistant coach in 2016.
She explained the outpouring of support she's received after earning the latter honor to Nina Mandell of USA Today in February 2016:
I can't tell you just how many women come up to me and they're so proud—and men too. Dads that have daughters and sisters and mothers, they're just so genuinely excited that doors and opportunities are now being opened. For me, I think it's such a notable point to make that a leader had to believe, a leader had to see that potential. A person had to come along that didn't care about gender, they care about how you do your job.
Meanwhile, Lieberman has already coached the Dallas Mavericks' NBA D-League affiliate, the Texas Legends, and has a long history in the sport. Nakase was the head coach of a men's team in Japan and has worked on the Clippers' staff since 2012.
Although Silver couldn't put an exact timetable on one of those three options or another female candidate's getting the chance to serve as a head coach, he told ESPN several barriers have been taken down over the years and the league must continue to "accelerate" the process.