Seeking more gender diversity in the NBA, commissioner Adam Silver wants to see women comprise at least half of the league's new referees, he said Thursday. "I'm not sure how it was that it remained so male-dominated for so long, because it's an area of the game where physically, certainly, there's no benefit of being a man, as opposed to a woman when it comes to refereeing," Silver said during an appearance at The Economic Club of Washington, D.C.
"The goal is: Going forward, it should be roughly 50-50 of new officials entering in the league," Silver added. He pointed out that in the developmental G League, two women were among five recent officiating hires, and there are three female officials currently working in the NBA.
Silver also wants to see more equality among the league's coaching staffs. "There's no reason why women shouldn't be coaching men's basketball," Silver said in a discussion with David M. Rubenstein, the president of The Economic Club.
Among the NBA's coaching staffs this season, assistants Becky Harmon of the San Antonio Spurs and Kristi Toliver of Washington Wizards were the only women employed. In 1997, some were critical of the NBA's decision to hire two female referees, Dee Kantner and Violet Palmer.
Then playing with the Houston Rockets, Charles Barkley said, "Everybody is entitled to their own opinion. I just hope they don't have women officials. It's the principle of the thing. I wouldn't want a man doing a WNBA game."
(With inputs from agencies.)