Assistant coach at the Portland Trail Blazers, Edniesha Curry is one of the few women who have managed to find a place on the bench of an NBA franchise. For her, this does not change her position. Basketball is basketball, coaching is coaching. It doesn’t matter what gender.
Former player in the WNBA and in Europe, passed by the staff of the women’s team then men’s at the University of Maine, Curry brings “different perspectives” to Portland. On the sidelines of her participation in the Jr. NBA Coaches program, we were able to ask her about her transition to the NBA, women in coaching and her work with the Blazers.
BasketSession: You studied and played for the University of Oregon. Joining the Blazers was therefore not only a big step in your career, but also a kind of homecoming. How was your first year in the NBA in Portland?
Edniesha Curry: You know what ? It was fun. This is very fun. And like you said, coming back to Oregon was like coming home. The transition was easy. I got to see my former coaches, my teammates, the community I was part of and built relationships in. It was amazing. And then, having the opportunity to coach in the NBA is an incredible opportunity. Learning daily from the best coaches and the best players, coaching at an elite level… it really is a blessing.
Before leaving for Portland, you coached in the NCAA. Coming to the NBA must have been a big change for you, both professionally and personally. What stood out to you the most in this transition?
Edniesha Curry: The trip. Honestly, basketball is basketball. It was really the trip that marked me the most. I needed an adjustment. At the University, we only played eight matches a month, two matches a week. In the NBA, you can play seven games in nine days. You have back-to-backs, you go to different cities… So for me, it’s the trip that required a certain adaptation.
But basketball was the same thing. It’s a matter of connecting with players and coaches. I was already in the NBA family for six years, I was part of the program of assistant coaches of the NBA. I participated in Draft Combine, camps and other activities throughout the year. So my transition was a lot easier than some might have thought.
You played in the WNBA and around the world for several years. Chauncey Billups, the head coach, also has extensive experience as an athlete. How do you manage to use that experience in your current job and how does it impact the Blazers’ style of play overall?
Edniesha Curry: I think what’s good about our team is the diversity. And I’m as diverse a candidate as possible. Being a black woman, who has coached in Europe and Asia, who has played all over the world… I think that brings different perspectives. There are so many ways to coach. I think when you have a diverse coaching staff like Coach Billups has, it allows for great conversations, but also unique ideas that allow players to learn in different ways and see different things. This experience is very beneficial.
“The NBA is opening the doors to more and more women. […] I really like the direction the league is taking when it sends the message that it’s about hiring the most qualified people, regardless of gender. »
Since we are talking about diversity: only six women held an assistant coach position in the NBA last season. You are only 15 in the history of the league, but you are also 12 to have been hired in the last five years. Do you think women should have more opportunities to coach in the NBA and the league is moving in the right direction?
Edniesha Curry: Yes, I think being part of an organization that emphasizes the value of people and not their gender is great. I think the NBA is opening the doors to more and more women so everyone can see that coaching is coaching. Basketball is basketball. You know, a 2-3 zone for men is the same as a 2-3 zone for women. In the NBA, you just have better athletes. I really like the direction the league is taking when it sends the message that it’s about hiring the most qualified people, regardless of gender. And this in the recruitment of the front office as coaches.
The Blazers have had a great offseason. The front office brought in Jerami Grant, Gary Payton II and re-signed your most important players. Damian Lillard will also be back next season. How do you adapt to such a change as a coach?
Edniesha Curry: As a coach, whatever players you have, you just have to coach them. Once they wear our uniform, they are the ones we train. This is the philosophy that my mentors have always taught me. You adapt by simply understanding your purpose and your role in the staff. And, you know, I’m looking forward to having these guys with us next season and working with them.
You won the Summer League with Portland this summer. How does the coaching staff work specifically during this event?
Edniesha Curry: The Summer League is really made for the development of young players. These are often rookies and sophomores who are on your roster, or players looking to join a roster. So we came in with a focus on what we did last year with the development of our young players. We have continued to grow and develop them so that they can have an impact on our team this season. It paid off in terms of progression and with our victory.
You are about to share your experience with a new generation in the Jr. NBA Coaches program. What do you think are the most important qualities to become a good coach?
Edniesha Curry: The main qualities for me are staying authentic and realizing that no matter what level you’re coaching, you’re coaching people. You know, you don’t really coach basketball, you coach people. Basketball is just a platform to develop the individual. That’s why I tell young coaches all the time to build a relationship. And once you’ve built a relationship and made your athletes better people, then they become better athletes.
The Jr. NBA Coaches – Online program presented by Gatorade® is hosted at OWQLO and offers 12 live virtual sessions from February to September for app users aged 16 and over in France. The next session with assistant NBA coach Edniesha Curry will take place on Sunday, July 31. For more information, visit owqlo.com, gatorade.co.uk as well as @NBAFRANCE on Facebook and Twitter and @NBAEurope on Instagram.
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