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Olympian Kara Lawson’s Groundbreaking Career Continues As Coach Of Duke Women’s Hoops

By Chrös McDougall | July 11, 2020, 3:16 p.m. (ET)

Kara Lawson looks on at the USA Basketball 3x3 U-18 National Championships on April 12, 2019 in Colorado Springs, Colo.


Kara Lawson, an Olympic gold medalist with Team USA who went on to become a groundbreaking broadcaster and coach, will take on her next challenge as Duke women’s basketball coach.

Lawson, 39, takes over for Joanne P. McCallie, who resigned earlier this month following 13 years with the Blue Devils. She becomes the first Black head coach in the program’s history.

A native of Alexandria, Virginia, Lawson first made her mark playing under Pat Summitt at Tennessee, where she led the Lady Vols to three Final Fours. That led to a 13-year WNBA playing career in which she won the 2005 championship while playing for Sacramento.

A point guard, Lawson averaged 7 points and 3 assists in helping Team USA go undefeated at the Olympic Games Beijing 2008, where she scored a team-high 15 points in the gold-medal game against Australia.

Lawson never strayed far from the sport. Even before retiring in 2015 she began working as a broadcaster, and in 2017 she became the primary analyst for the Washington Wizards, making her just the second woman to hold that job in the NBA.

She’s since added coaching to her resume, starting with the 3x3 discipline that will make its Olympic debut next summer in Tokyo. Lawson became coach of USA Basketball’s 3x3 women’s national team in 2017.

In June 2019, the Boston Celtics hired Lawson as an assistant coach, making her the first woman to coach the iconic NBA franchise.

At Duke, she’ll inherit a team that had a record of 18-12 and was receiving votes in both major polls when the 2019-20 season was canceled due to COVID-19. McCallie had led the Blue Devils to a 330-107 record and 10 NCAA tournaments over 13 seasons but resigned on July 2 with one year left on her contract.

Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic and Paralympic movements for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul

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Kara Lawson