Dawn Staley says the Portland Trail Blazers ‘treated me like a real candidate’

Ben Solomon/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Dawn Staley is opening up for the first time about her experience interviewing for the Portland Trail Blazers’ head coaching job.

The Team USA and South Carolina Gamecocks coach dished about the NBA interview process while talking with Napheesa Collier and A’ja Wilson on the latest episode of Tea with A & Phee.

Reports that Staley had spoken with the Trail Blazers first surfaced in June, shortly before Portland announced Chauncey Billups as the team’s next head coach.

“I had never had an ounce of me that wanted to coach in the WNBA or NBA, until somebody sought me out, like the Portland Trail Blazers,” Staley says on the JWS show.

“When you’re being sought out, you have to vet it a little bit to see if they’re really serious about it. I thought they treated me like a real candidate. Whether or not they seriously considered me, I felt like it wasn’t a fluke. So I agreed to do it.”

Staley says the interview took place over Zoom and that, rather than focusing on the X’s and O’s, the Blazers executives asked Staley how she would handle star players.

“I bet that is most of the job,” Collier tells Staley, who says she agrees.

When asked by Collier how she would handle a star player who’s sitting out of training camp, Staley says she would focus on building relationships with her players and their families ahead of time in order to avoid such conflicts.

Though Portland decided to go in another direction, Staley hopes her experience helps other women interviewing for similar positions in the future.

“It was a really a great experience,” she says. “I took a lot of notes because if another female is ever in that position, I got the notes, and I’m going to give them everything that they asked me — how I answered it, what they said.”

Staley doesn’t say whether she would have taken the job if offered, but she says that she thanked the Blazers for the experience and for “treating me as if I was a serious candidate.”

This past weekend, Staley won her sixth gold medal with Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics, after which she said she would be stepping down as the national team coach.

You can listen to A’ja Wilson and Napheesa Collier’s full interview with Dawn Staley here.