She stands under the basket rebounding and giving feedback to rookie guard Carsen Edwards as he shoots from different spots on the court. After swishing his final three attempts he jogs over to her.
"Thanks, coach," Edwards says before exchanging a high-five with Lawson.
Welcome to the new-look NBA, in which women's footprints are directly impacting every aspect of the game — from broadcasting booths, to officiating, coaching on the sidelines, front-office executives to ownership.
Lawson is one of a record 11 women serving as assistant coaches in the NBA this season. While former WNBA star Swin Cash and Sue Bird are working in NBA front offices.
"It's not a fad," said Basketball Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman. "It's opportunities going to very accomplished women who have given their life to the game."
While it may not be a fad, it is a recent trend.
Lieberman remembers a time when the presence of women was hard to spot, or at best found only behind the scenes.
The 61-year-old — who has broken barriers as a player, as a coach in the WNBA, head coach in NBA G League and in the NBA as assistant — learned quickly that building relationships was the skeleton key to erasing gender hurdles and opening opportunities in the league. That, along with an occasional assist from forward thinking men like former coach Don Nelson, who in 2009 hired her as the head coach of the Texas Legends, the Dallas Mavericks' G League affiliate.
Several have continued Nelson's vision, including San Antonio Spurs Greg Popovich, who made Becky Hammon the NBA's first full-time assistant in 2014; current Mavericks' coach Rick Carlisle (he hired Jenny Boucek as assistant in 2017) and the Sacramento Kings organization, which has been responsible for hiring three women as assistants (Lieberman, Boucek and Lindsay Harding). Even the BIG3, spearheaded by founder and entertainer Ice Cube, is helping normalize the idea of women leading men, Lieberman said.
"I remember Donnie did an interview and he said, 'Maybe the best man for the job isn't a man at all.' He had a list of criteria he wanted to hit for his head coach. And I hit those," Lieberman said.
The women who have broken into the NBA ranks are garnering respect from players for their experience and basketball knowledge.
Celtics guard Gordon Hayward said Lawson has already made her presence felt.
"She's been good as far as just the experience she has as a basketball player," Hayward said. "Reading the game and kind of little things she sees coaching on the sideline. Having somebody that well-versed in basketball, that experience is good."
Earlier this month, Wizards assistant Kristi Toliver was on the court helping the Mystics win their first WNBA championship. On the sideline, Washington NBA All-Stars John Wall and Bradley Beal were wearing the Wizard assistant's WNBA jersey and dancing from the stands .
NBA players are treating the feedback from Toliver and the other women in the league with the same reverence they give their male counterparts.
"The biggest thing I learned is to share your voice and what you've learned," Toliver said. "Doing that has helped me communicate with my guys."
Toliver is in a unique salary situation since she coaches for the Washington Wizards and plays for the Washington Mystics — both owned by same franchise. She was only paid about $10,000 with the Wizards last year because of WNBA salary cap rules. WNBA teams can only pay all their players a combined $50,000 in offseason to supplement pay and Washington only had $10,000 left to pay Toliver.
There are no such hiccups in New Orleans, where Pelicans guard Frank Jackson said he always expected to benefit from Cash and Teresa Weatherspoon, who was hired as a New Orleans assistant this season.
"They were ballers," Jackson said. "They were good at their craft and I've taken a lot from both of them. ... I've always had open eyes and open ears to anyone who plays this game."
The 21-year-old Jackson knows of the women's exploits because he has witnessed it firsthand. And he is not alone. The WNBA has been around since most players were teenagers, and is older than others; the league was launched in 1996.
"As the years go on, they're going to get more and more recognition," said Jackson, in his third year out of Duke. "Girls can hoop, too. ... I just think as times change, you'll see more and more."
Cash believes the NBA is realizing having more women is important to growing the league's overall brand, business and bottom line.
"The reality is and the statistics prove it, is that having women included in your business helps you get more inclusion, helps you get the diversity you need," she said. "Diversity of thought, not just Black, White, Asian, Latino, whatever."
Stephanie Ready, a former assistant in the then D-League, said a big factor in the opportunities women are getting are coming because the younger generation of NBA executives, such as 76ers general manager Elton Brand. She said the new crop of hiring managers are doing a better job of recognizing what women bring to the table and as the older generation retires, it will get even better.
"Some people will age out," said Ready, one of the first women to be a men's assistant on the collegiate level with Coppin State and a former broadcaster with the Charlotte Hornets who now currently covers the NBA for TNT and Yahoo. "By that I mean the old regime of men who thought that only men could do these jobs."
Richard Lapchick, who tracks racial and gender hiring numbers for the NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB, has long lauded the NBA as being the leader in gender hiring practices. He credits the leadership of Commissioner Adam Silver, who said the league needed to increase the number women coaches and referees in the NBA.
Along with the record number of female assistants, five women referees will be working NBA games this upcoming season.
Lapchick also believes the NBA will soon have its female head coach. Whether that is Hammon in San Antonio remains to be seen. But whoever it is, Lapchick said the move would go a long way in putting even more women in position to make basketball decisions.
"I'd be surprised if it doesn't happen before the next season," he said, "or during the next season."
Dhaka, Oct 17 (UNB) — A muscle strain on the right side of the rib forced Bangladesh opener Tamim Iqbal out of the second round of the National Cricket League (NCL).
A BCB physician told UNB that the opener is now on a seven-day rest, and he will be assessed to check if he is fit enough to take part in the next round of NCL.
“Tamim got the blow on his right rib. It's a muscle strain. He has been asked to rest for seven days. We think it won’t affect his India tour,” BCB chief physician Debashis Chowdhury told the media.
Bangladesh's next international assignment is the tour of India where the Tigers will face the hosts in three T20Is and two Tests. This will be Bangladesh's first full series in India.
A source close to Tamim said he was heading to Fatullah to play the second round NCL game against Barishal Division at Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium. But he had to sit out the game because of enormous pain.
Tamim played the first round of NCL at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium against Dhaka metro.
Milan, Oct 17 (AP/UNB) — From soccer flops to the brink of making history, Italy has come a long way in the two years since its embarrassing failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Italy had already qualified for the 2020 European Championship — with three matches to spare — but Tuesday's 5-0 win at Liechtenstein saw the Azzurri match the national team's record of nine straight wins set under Vittorio Pozzo between 1938-39.
Victory against Bosnia-Herzegovina next month will establish a new all-time mark for the Azzurri.
"I'm not interested in the record for consecutive wins, it would mean more to win two World Cups and an Olympics like he (Pozzo) did, but I'd settle for the European Championship," Italy coach Roberto Mancini said with a smile.
It was nearly two years ago that Italy lost a playoff to Sweden and failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup — leaving the four-time champion out of soccer's biggest tournament for the first time in 54 years.
It hasn't all been plain sailing under Mancini, who was tasked with restoring the mentality and confidence in a team that had lost its way under his predecessor Gian Piero Ventura.
The enormity of the job was illustrated by the fact Mancini managed just one win in his first eight matches in charge. That came against Saudi Arabia, which was also the only team against which Italy managed to score more than one goal.
However, little by little Mancini has instilled an attacking mentality and youthful energy into the group.
Italy has won all eight of its qualifying matches in Group J, scoring 25 goals and conceding just three in the process. It also beat the United States in a friendly last year.
Nearly half those goals have come in the two matches against Liechtenstein and Andrea Belotti scored twice again on Tuesday, just as he did in the 6-0 victory earlier in the campaign.
"This side is lucky for me," Belotti said. "Two goals like last time. I'm very happy, for our performance above all. We did what the coach asked of us.
"You can see that there's a more confident Italy side with desire to do what the coach wants, the group is following his ideas. We're showing some good stuff on the pitch after what happened two years ago."
Belotti will be competing with Ciro Immobile for a starting spot at Euro 2020 but he claims there is no rivalry with his former Torino teammate.
"Ciro is a great friend even off the pitch," said Belotti, who ran up and hugged Immobile (an unused substitute) after scoring. "We are also roommates."
As well as the five goals and matching the record, there were other positives to take from the game.
There were debuts for two more players as Napoli defender Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Brescia midfielder Sandro Tonali became the 19th and 20th players to make their international debut under Mancini.
While Tonali was given only 16 minutes, Di Lorenzo played the full match and also set up Belotti's second in an impressive performance from the 26-year-old.
"I'm happy for the whole team, it was important to keep this run of wins going," Di Lorenzo said. "We're a good group and there's a good atmosphere and it's easy for the new guys to fit in.
"I owe a lot to (Napoli coach Carlo) Ancelottti, he's put faith in me since the first game and I'm also here thanks to him. Now, it's on me to keep doing well for Napoli and the Azzurri."
Many young players are competing for places. Mancini made 10 changes to the team that beat Greece on Saturday, keeping only Marco Verratti.
The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder was handed the captain's armband as he was the most experienced player in the team — with just 35 caps.
"If they're here, it's because we believe in these players," Mancini said. "In June, however, some good players will have to stay at home.
"They'll get other chances, we'll look to improve as a team and then we'll see. It makes me happy that the guys have great relationships with one another."
Rome, Oct 17 (AP/UNB) — UEFA has been asked to consider moving this season's Champions League final out of Istanbul because of Turkey's military action in Syria.
UEFA declined to comment Wednesday about a letter sent from the Italian sports minister questioning if it was appropriate to continue letting Turkey host the biggest club game in world soccer in May.
"We know well that the seriousness of what is happening in Syria will not be resolved with this act but we are all aware of the importance (political, media, economic, cultural) that belongs to one of the most important sporting events in the world," the letter states, according to Italian news agency ANSA.
The Ataturk Olympic Stadium was picked by UEFA last year over the Stadium of Light in Lisbon, Portugal.
UEFA vice president Michele Uva told an Italian radio station it was "absolutely premature to talk about sanctions," though the situation would be evaluated by the European soccer body's executive committee. It next meets on Dec. 4.
Istanbul already hosted the UEFA Super Cup this season. Champions League winner Liverpool beat Chelsea, the Europa League title holder, in a penalty shootout after a 2-2 draw.
Since Turkey began a military offensive in northeast Syria last week, national team athletes from the country have made salute gestures at sports events.
UEFA asked its investigators on Tuesday to assess if the Turkish soccer federation should be charged in a disciplinary case. Salutes made by Turkey players after European Championship qualifying games against Albania and France in the past week could breach rules prohibiting political statements at stadiums.
Sofia, Oct 17 (AP/UNB) — Bulgarian police arrested six soccer fans Wednesday and identified 15 people linked to making racist gestures, including Nazi salutes, during a European Championship qualifying match against England.
Bulgarian fans also directed monkey noises at England's black players during the match, which was halted twice in an effort to stop the racist abuse. England won the match 6-0.
"Six people have been arrested during the operation of the Sofia police department after establishing they are the perpetrators of disorderly acts," the Ministry of Interior said in a statement. "Due to the immediate action taken by Sofia police, 15 participants in the illegal activity have been identified. For nine of those there is information collected, including expert facial recognition."
The ministry said the evidence collected will be handed to the prosecutor's office in Sofia.
"We do not tolerate such behavior," Sofia police department senior commissioner Georgi Hadzhiev said in the statement. "Everyone who violated the public order will be called in, some of them have been arrested and action will be taken against them."
In the fallout from Monday's game, the president of the country's soccer federation has resigned and the Bulgarian special police forces have raided the federation offices.