It’s hardly been a year since Becky Hammon made history by becoming the first female assistant coach in the NBA, but she’s already added another feather to her cap this week when she coached the San Antonio Spurs to victory in the NBA Las Vegas Summer League Championship.
Spurs’ latest title – in NBA Summer League – came under Becky Hammon, first female head coach in summer league. pic.twitter.com/9xGJ5Pwugk— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 21, 2015
The Spurs beat the Phoenix Suns 93-90 in Las Vegas on Monday night to win the Summer League tournament — a melting pot of new talent from the NBA draft and undrafted free agents — making Hammon the first female head coach to win the tournament. Hammon, 38, is also the first female to lead a team as Head Coach in the NBA Summer League, and her success in Las Vegas only enhanced a reputation that was already growing around the league.
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich added Hammon, a six-time WNBA All-Star, to his coaching staff in August 2014, and the five-time NBA champion coach was only full of admiration for Hammon at the time, as he told reporters, according to Newsweek.
“Her being a woman just happens to be an incidental fact. She’s a heck of a coach, a heck of a competitor…”
After an impressive two weeks in Las Vegas, Hammon’s players — and several league observers — are coming to the same conclusion. The Spurs started slowly, winning their first game before losing three straight. But after going down to the New York Knicks on July 11th, they slowly turned things around. Under Hammon’s guiding hand, and the on-court exploits of Kyle Anderson and championship MVP Jonathan Simmons, they won the last six games to finish on top.
Hammon was quick to give her players the credit afterwards, as reported by Huffington Post.
“It was a grind. They’ve been together about 17 days. They really started to kind of gel here these last two or three games. I’m just really (appreciative of) their attentiveness and alertness and their desire to win.”
Her players were clearly appreciative. As forward Jarell Eddie told the Guardian before the final, “We don’t look at it as female or anything, she’s the coach and we just listen.” Spurs forward Danny Green, on NBA TV during the game, was also full of praise for Hammon. “She gives another perspective on the sidelines for us. She sees some things that we don’t see.”
Simmons was much more emotive after the win, talking to NBA TV.
“It’s always good to be a part of history. This day will go down in the books for years to come … I love her. I barely know her and I love her already,”
Apparently, he’s not the only one. There’s already chatter about Hammon eventually moving up to a full-time head coach position in the NBA. As Kelly Dwyer argues on Yahoo Sports, she’s just as ready as some of the league’s young new coaches and — under Popovich’s tutelage — she’s already in the right environment to learn the ropes.
I know this is a bold statement. If I was running a team and had a head coaching opening. The first call would be to Becky Hammon.— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) July 21, 2015
Awesome, and not a surprise: http://t.co/VMuWjYxlPc Becky Hammon will be an NBA head coach soon.— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) July 21, 2015
With the growing list of firsts under her belt, it might well be just a matter of time before she cracks that glass ceiling too.
(Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)