Kara Lawson: I Took a Circuitous Route to Get There, But I'm Here Now


Kara Lawson met the media for the first time after being officially introduced as the new Duke women’s basketball coach.

Lawson was hired over the weekend, and the former Tennessee player and WNBA All-star held her press conference from her room in the Orlando NBA “Bubble,” where she had been preparing for the season’s restart in her role as Boston Celtics assistant coach.

She apologized for not wearing school colors to her press conference.

“I didn’t have any blue in the Bubble, so I did my best,” she said.

Lawson doesn’t have experience as a head coach, but there are plenty of experienced coaches in Duke athletics to help her find her footing.

“I do want to thank Coach K (men’s coach Mike Krzyzewski) and Coach (David) Cutcliffe. Their impact on me, not only through the process but relationships I’ve had with both Coach K and Coach Cutcliffe over the years. I couldn’t be walking into a situation any better as a first-time head coach than to have those two men as mentors. I’m looking forward to learning from them and being part of the Duke athletic department.”

Since her WNBA playing days ended, Lawson has worked as a TV commentator, youth three-on-three coach with USA Basketball and spent a year on the Celtics sideline. Now she returns to college.

“This is a dream come true for me,” she said. “I’ve wanted to be a coach since I was a kid, and I guess you would say I took kind of a circuitous route to get there, but I’m here now and so excited about the opportunity to help shape young women, help grow their games, grow their personalities and help them mature throughout their college years.”

With coach Joanne McCallie’s surprise resignation in early July and a group of former players pushing for the school to bring back former coach Gail Goestenkors, one of Lawson’s first duties was to build bridges to key members of the program.

“This game has always been about players,” she said. “Certainly, if you ask any player, they’ll tell you it is, but even as a coach, it is. It’s about players. I tried to spend my first few hours, then a couple days, reaching out to our players, our past players as well and some, hopefully, future players. We’re really excited. I just can’t wait.”