Okay, ladies, let’s get in formation!

According to Bleacher Report, the Cleveland Cavaliers have officially promoted Shelly Cayette to both executive vice president and chief operating officer (COO). She will now make history as the first Black woman to serve as COO of an NBA team.

“Look, I’ve got to tell you – part of me would like to see the day when I’m not making history,” said Cayette. “It’s nice to know that I’m the first, but hopefully I can open doors so there aren’t any more first. The goal is to do away with firsts.”

This isn’t the first time the Cleveland Cavaliers have broken gender-related barriers. In fact, the team hired Lindsay Gottlieb, making her the first woman to join an NBA coaching staff. 

The Journey

Upon joining the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2012, Cayette served as the team’s senior vice president of global partnerships. 

Her work would go on to land her a spot in the Sports Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 list for 2021.

Leading The Way For Women In Sports

A former ballplayer, Cayette played college basketball at Tulane University in her birthplace of Lousiana before starting her career as a marketing coordinator for Harrah’s Casino, located in New Orleans. 

From there, she landed her first job in the league in the marketing department with the New Orleans Hornets back in 2007.

When she first arrived in Cleveland, she took on the role of vice president of partnership marketing and strategy for the Cleveland Cavaliers and continues to smash glass ceilings as a woman in the sports industry.

“Shelly Cayette is both a game-changer and a leader of the highest caliber,” said Nic Barlage, the Cavs’ president of business operations and Rock Entertainment Group chief operating officer, in a statement. “This promotion is a reflection of not only those qualities and the business success she has generated, but the person she is and how she has impacted so many other members of our organization, our community and our industry.”

Per Crain’s Cleveland Business, Cayette has a lot on her plate as a wife and mother to a two-year-old daughter with another bundle of joy on the way. And still, she is committed to her role within the industry and looks to make a difference each day.