|By Sally Haase
August 8, 2014
August 5, 2014 was a historic day for the NBA, women and sports in
general; reining champion San Antonio Spurs hired Becky Hammon as an assistant
coach. Hammon is one of the best players in the WNBA for San Antonio’s own
Stars. Hammon plans on retiring at the end of the season and Spurs head coach
Gregg Popovich quickly snatched her up before anyone else had a chance.
Popovich knew of Hammon’s basketball skills and mind through her years of playing
for the Stars. When Hammon went down with a knee injury last July, Popovich
invited her to the Spurs training facility to work with the team as a coach while she
rehabbed her knee. After working together Popovich stated that Hammon would be
the first female head coach in the NBA.
Considering Popovich has helped create one of the best teams in the
NBA, he must know his stuff. It will certainly be an uphill battle for Hammon to
become a head coach in the NBA, but she has someone and a team who believes
in her and sometimes that is all you need to get your foot in the door. Another great
thing about the announcement of this hiring has been the positive reaction to it, we
are in the 21 century after all, and it’s time for women to get a shot in men’s sports.
There will be some negative comments, there always will be, but Hammon,
Popovich, and the Spurs will handle it with class and dignity.
The six time WNBA all-star Hammon is actually the second woman hired
by a NBA team; the Cleveland Cavaliers hired Lisa Boyer to work with the team
during her time coaching the WNBA’s Cleveland Rockers, although Boyer never sat
on the bench during games nor traveled with the team on road trips. Hammon will
be included in all of that just like every assistant coach in the NBA, so Hammon is
the first full-time coach hired by an NBA team.
I have been watching Hammon play for the past four years and she is one
of the best the WNBA has ever seen, scrappy would surely be a word to describe
her on the court. She is a playmaker, an excellent outside shooter; seriously, when
she finds her groove every shot she puts up goes in. And the most important thing
when looking for a player who will make a great coach is the “coach on the court”
leadership and Hammon definitely possesses that skill.
Hammon spent 16 season in the WNBA and did not have the pleasure of
winning a championship, even though her skills were deserving of one. With the
Stars record the way it is, she will not get one to end her career, but she could help
coach the Spurs to yet another championship.