The NBA champion San Antonia Spurs made history on Tuesday when they announced the hiring of WNBA superstar Becky Hammon as an assistant coach. A 16-year WNBA veteran, Hammon has drawn praise for her high basketball IQ and selfless play. Those types of skills translate well into the coaching aspects of the game.
Known for its diversity, the National Basketball Association has a good track record of hiring women and minorities in league office positions. But until now women haven’t had the widespread chance to leave the league office and break into the actual X’s and O’s like African American men have. In fact, Becky Hammon is only the second female coach!
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had this to say about the team’s hiring in a press release.
I very much look forward to the addition of Becky Hammon to our staff,” Popovich wrote. “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.
Heck, Pop may even want to sub Becky Hammon in next season! The quick and nimble point guard made six WNBA All-Star teams between 2003 and 2011. Hammon was also voted at one of the 15 best players in league history in the summer of 2011. Becky split her storied career between the New York Liberty and the San Antonio Stars. Becky announced her pending retirement earlier this season. Thus, she has one final opportunity to capture an elusive championship.
Like most WNBA players, Becky Hammon has put a lot of wear and tear on her body by playing basketball year round for many years. With the average player salary barely breaking the $70,000 mark many women choose to supplement their income by going to Europe or Asia to play in the WNBA offseason.
For instance, Phoenix Mercury Center Brittney Griner made $600,000 playing for the WCBA’s Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls, 12 times more cash than her take in the states. Becky never ventured out to Asia, but she did play internationally for storied Russian squad CSKA Moscow.
And despite being a U.S. citizen by birth, Becky Hammon played for the Russian National team after becoming a naturalized citizen while playing abroad. As such, she competed for Russia in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Team Russia had two very successful stints in the ’08 and ’12 Olympics going to two straight Olympic Bronze Medal Games. They even won third place in China before falling to Australia four years later.
She clearly has the resume, but will Hammon be embraced? So far Becky’s been well-received the media as evidenced by the following tweets.
Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix praised San Antonio’s forward thinking front office regarding the Hammon move.
Spurs have named retiring WNBA star Becky Hammon an assistant coach. The Spurs, once again, being the Spurs. A step ahead.
Prolific Boston Celtics blogger and co-founder of RedsArmy.com John Karalis has even gone as far as saying that other teams will soon be making additional female hires, in increasingly important positions thanks to the Hammon hiring.
Won’t be long until we see a woman as an NBA head coach… wheels are in motion.
What do you think. Will there be a female head coach in the NBA? Do you think such a move would be accepted by the teams players and fan base? Let us know in the comments section below.
[Photo courtesy of People 1971]