Over the years, the San Antonio Spurs have made big decisions. Largely, San Antonio’s biggest decisions have involved re-signing their own. So when Becky Hammon of the San Antonio Stars was hired as a Spurs assistant coach Tuesday, it was both a bit surprising…and really not much of a surprise all at once.
On Jul. 23, Hammon – seventh in WNBA history in points (5,809), fourth in assists (1,687) and sixth in games (445) – announced her plans to retire following her 16th season.
San Antonio took notice.
In particular, Gregg Popovich took notice, after agreeing to a contract extension earlier this summer.
“I very much look forward to the addition of Becky Hammon to our staff,” Pop said in a statement released by the team Tuesday. “Having observed her working with our team this past season, I’m confident her basketball IQ, work ethic and interpersonal skills will be a great benefit to the Spurs.”
San Antonio Hires One Of Their Own Once Again
Hammon will be a pioneer of sorts next year. Becky will become the second woman to serve as an assistant coach in the NBA, but she will travel with the Spurs as well.
In 2001-2002, Lisa Boyer was a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers coaching staff, but she did not travel with the team. Boyer, now University of South Carolina’s head coach, was also an assistant coach of the WNBA’s Cleveland Rockers at the time.
Last year, Popovich invited Becky, a six-time WNBA All-Star, to attend practices when her season was ended by a knee injury.
How San Antonio’s players will respond to a woman will be telling. By and large, the Spurs should have no quarrels. Their two biggest stars, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, competed with Becky at 2008 All-Star Weekend in the Shooting Stars Challenge.
With Duncan and Parker leading the way in practices, Hammon (who spent the past eight seasons in the Alamo City) should fit in like a washer on a bolt. Pop definitely won’t allow his players to disrespect her.
In 2008, Popovich told the media:
“She (Becky) wants to coach after she’s done. Because she’s not just a good player but a smart player, a great person in our community, just somebody that we all respect so much, we gave her the opportunity to sit with us during the year. She came to our coaches’ meetings, argued with us. She did everything.”
Why Did It Take So Long? A New Trend To Follow…
That’s a commendable question because surely there have been many females capable of coaching in the NBA. More than a decade without a woman on the sidelines of an NBA coaching staff is a bit appalling.
Hammon, obviously, wanted to compete until her body gave up on her. Unfortunately, it did in 2013. Becky soon realized her playing career was coming to an end.
It’s not every day a defending champion calls and wants to talk to you. Earlier this summer, Ettore Messina had the pleasure to be on the other end of the phone. Messina, an Italian coaching legend and a natural fit to join San Antonio, accepted.
Next in the Spurs’ assistant coaching search was Becky. In typical San Antonio fashion, the terms of the Hammon deal weren’t released. The only important matter is a woman is back on the NBA sidelines, where she should be welcome.
In the copycat NBA, we can only hope the Spurs have paved a new trend in sports. Appreciate your own. Give back to your community. And hire great minds.