Becky Hammon’s influential career in basketball has led to making history and it’s clear she is right where she belongs coaching at the highest level.
After beginning her basketball career as an undervalued high school point guard that earned Miss Basketball and Player of the Year in the state of South Dakota, Becky Hammon accepted an opportunity to play collegiate basketball at Colorado State University.
Due to the development of Hammon’s dynamic shot-making, creative passing and crafty ballhandling combined with her intelligent basketball knowledge, she turned the CSU women’s basketball program around by becoming a three-time All-American.
Hammon has been undervalued her entire career, so it wasn’t a surprise once she went undrafted in the WNBA Draft. Although, she finally got the chance to play professionally in the WNBA in 1999 when she thrived with the New York Liberty and the San Antonio Silver Stars later on in her career. Hammon would go on to play 16 seasons in the WNBA while becoming a 6-time WNBA All-Star.
After retiring from professional basketball as a player in 2014, she would move on right away to her next influential journey. That same year, Hammon was announced as the new assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs, becoming the first full-time female coach in NBA history. She was also the first full-time female coach in any of the four major professional sports.
Hammon was hired because of her strong basketball IQ and natural coaching mentality. As a successful professional point guard throughout her basketball career, Hammon developed the expertise of seeing the floor, reading the game and analyzing schemes.
Since voicing her intelligence on the court provided major value to her team as a player, transitioning to coaching wasn’t a difficult change of scenery. It has always been in her blood to coach basketball, and it always seemed like the perfect match.
San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich spoke very highly of Hammon and was excited to have her expertise on the coaching staff. Popovich is considered as one of the all-time great coaches, so it meant a lot for him to say that about Hammon and it was clear he knew she was going to be a great asset to their organization.
Nevertheless, many teams were skeptical of Hammon’s coaching abilities since being a female coach in the NBA was not the norm at the time and is still progressing today.
In the summer of 2015, Hammon proved her doubters wrong by claiming the NBA Summer League title as the head coach of the Spurs. As a result, she earned the respect of players, coaches, executives and fans around the league. Hammon resiliently showed the world that a female was qualified to coach in the NBA.
This was just the beginning of Hammon as an NBA coach. She has now been with the Spurs as an assistant coach under Popovich for six seasons. Many former assistants under Pop have gone on to be head coaches in the league such as Mike Budenholzer, Brett Brown, James Borrego and Monty Williams.
The bigger question now surrounds the possibility of Hammon becoming the next addition to the Gregg Popovich coaching tree in the future. Will she become the first female head coach in NBA history?
It may take some time for the league to get comfortable with that reality, but there is certainly optimism. If any woman is capable of serving as a head coach in the NBA, it’s Becky Hammon.
Hammon’s resume illustrates what an NBA executive is looking for in a new head coach. She has had the experience of succeeding as a professional basketball player, led the Spurs’ NBA Summer League team to victory and served as an assistant coach under one of the all-time great coaches for six seasons and counting while showing tremendous leadership, resiliency, passion, high basketball IQ and interpersonal skills.
Hammon can be compared to Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr since he also went from competing as a professional point guard to becoming an NBA coach. Kerr also had a successful playing career that included playing under Popovich late in his career. He has now won three NBA championships since becoming the head coach of the Warriors.
Both Hammon and Kerr possess a similar mindset of reading the game from their playing experiences, and the transition to coaching in the NBA worked out well for Kerr.
I can’t promise that Becky Hammon will eventually become a head coach in the NBA, but it’s possible that she at least receives an opportunity down the road. She has proved her worth, so all it takes is for someone to give her the chance she deserves.
Hammon has defied the odds throughout her entire career with basketball and continues to thrive right where she belongs while being an inspiration to women in sports.
Each step in her basketball experience has been a building block to her coaching identity.
From her developmental journey as an intelligent basketball player to currently an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs, one fact can be identified:
Becky Hammon was built to coach basketball.