As first reported by ESPN’s Zach Lowe, the New Orleans Pelicans will hire Swin Cash as vice president of basketball operations and team development.
Cash’s extensive, elite basketball resume makes her more than qualified for this position. A two-time national champion a UConn, she was drafted second overall by the Detroit Shock, helping them secure the WNBA title in 2003 and 2006.
After a 2008 trade to the Storm, she teamed with Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson to bring a second championship to Seattle. With a 2012 trade to the Chicago Sky, Cash began to transition from star to supporting role, which she also served in Atlanta and New York as she wrapped up her 15-year WNBA career.
Cash also spent time playing abroad, suiting up for CSKA Samara and USK Prague. And as a member of USA Basketball, she won Olympic gold medals in 2004 and 2012 as well as at the 2010 FIBA World Championship.
Yet, Cash’s resume did not speak for itself. Rather, it was the words she spoke that led to this opportunity.
ESPN’s announcement intimates that Pelicans executive president of basketball operations David Griffin was encouraged to add Cash to his front office after appearing with her on NBA TV last season. Cash also has served as a studio analyst for MSG Network, sharing among other analysis thoughts about Zion Williamson, which may be of interest to her new boss.
Cash’s opportunity underscores the importance of women in basketball media. Yes, seeing Cash, as well as Candace Parker, Chiney Ogwumike, Kara Lawson, Lisa Leslie and others offer their insights on TNT, ESPN and regional sports networks is representationally powerful. But, as Cash’s hiring highlights, such experiences can lead to material power.
The green rooms of NBA TV, TNT and ESPN often serve as a way station for NBA coaches and executives, past and future. By inviting current and former women basketball players to appear on studio shows, networks give these women valuable opportunities to hobnob with men who likely will be making front office or sideline hires in the not-so-distant future. Backstage, the likes of Cash, Ogwumike and Parker not only are able to impress their male counterparts with their preparedness and perspectives, but also establish the familiarity and camaraderie that, more often than not, determines hiring decisions.
Now, Cash will influence future decisions that the Pelicans make, exercising real power in the world of basketball.