A coach on the field, a coach on the sidelines, a coach is a coach is a coach.
Sparks point guard Kristi Toliver is set to join the Dallas Mavericks as an assistant coach, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and confirmed by Toliver herself Thursday night after his team’s 66-64 win over the Dream d ‘Atlanta.
“First I want to congratulate us on winning this game,” said Toliver after the Sparks’ third straight victory. “As far as (head coach) Jason (Kidd) and the Mavs are concerned, super excited. This is a great opportunity that I’m thrilled to be – to be a part of. Jason, of course, as a player, Hall of Fame member, great coach, and someone I will learn a lot from. Him and all the staff.
“I’m just happy to have the opportunity to be back in the NBA and continue to grow as a coach in this role. I still have a lot to learn, but I will continue to be that sponge and give everything I can to this team. Obviously excited to be alongside Luka (Doncic) and company, a great team, great players, just couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity.
Toliver – who signed with the Sparks until 2022 – also spent part of two seasons on the Washington Wizards coaching staff while she was a member of the WNBA’s Washington Mystics.
“Kristi, we’re just happy for her,” said Derek Fisher, former Laker star who is in his third season as Sparks coach. “She’s very intentional about her love and passion for the game, and continues to be a big part of it and having an opportunity like that in Dallas is amazing, it’s great.
“And I think the growth and evolution of coaching and teaching and hopefully we continue to push past labels in terms of gender and color and we all try to do well with basketball. ball. And Kristi is that type of player, that type of person and I think she will be a great coach as well.
Toliver, 34, won WNBA titles with the Sparks and Mystics. This season, her 12th in the WNBA, she is averaging 9.5 points in 16 games for the Sparks. It was his 15-foot fadeaway that beat the buzzer that sent Tuesday’s game into overtime.
“Maaan, first of all, they would have been crazy if they hadn’t given her this job,” said Nneka Ogwumike, a native Texan who joked that she and Toliver would be neighbors in the winter, with Dallas just four hours away. from her home in Houston.
“To be able to play with a player like Kristi is amazing because you play with a coach,” said Ogwumike. “And so I ask a lot of questions about the things she sees. On both sides of the court, she truly lives up to what she teaches.
Toliver says her position – playmaker, like Fisher and Kidd – helped prepare her to become a coach.
“We are in the unique position where we have to see the game,” she said. “We have to know each position, we have to be able to tell our teammates where to be, the timing of things, I think that’s just the general IQ. We’re fair, we’re the coach on the pitch and I think it’s just a natural thing for playmakers to coach for leadership positions just because that’s what we need to be for our team. night after night.
The night and night party never changes, Toliver said, promising she would bring the same state of mind to Dallas.
“My job is to help our team get better every day, you know? Said Toliver, who played at the University of Maryland. “All the details will work out on their own. I just can’t wait to get there and get around the team and things go naturally, I let things go as they should and we’ll see… the # 1 job is always to improve the team and pursue a championship. ”
For the record, Ogwumike said she plans to require Toliver’s championship pursuit to be two-pronged for a period of time.
“It’s obviously an honor to always play with K-Tizzle,” said Ogwumike, who played with Toliver on the 2016 Sparks team that won the WNBA title. “And, you know, I just want to keep winning with it. I obviously want her to shine as a coach, but she can’t stop being a player for me.
“Not until I say it.”
– Kristi Toliver (@KristiToliver) August 20, 2021
Of course, she was also very happy with tonight’s victory for her team. pic.twitter.com/WIC0J5VeBg
– Chris Camello (@Chris_Camello) August 20, 2021