Becky Hammon: Smashing The Glass Ceiling Of The NBA

Before she became the first woman to have a full time position on an NBA coaching staff, Becky Hammon was one of the most decorated WNBA players of all time. During her time in the WNBA, Hammon held career averages of 13.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 3.8 apg, and 1.1 spg over an incredible 16-year span. During her playing career, Hammon was named to the WNBA All-Star team six times, All-WNBA First Team two times, All-WNBA Second Team two times, and led the WNBA in assists for the 2007 season.

Most of Hammon’s career has been highlighted by her many accomplishments on the court playing for teams such as the New York Liberty, San Antonio Stars, Rivas Ecopolis in Spain, CSKA Moscow in Russia, Ros Casares Valencia in Spain, and both the U.S. and Russian Women’s National Teams. Her most recent accomplishment, becoming the first full-time female coach in the history of the NBA, may be her most significant one.

In a year that has seen amazing things in sports by women such as the stories of Caitlyn Jenner, Mo’ne Davis, and the U.S. Women’s National Team, Becky Hammon has flown somewhat under the radar. The NBA is without a doubt a male dominated sport, with the only significant figure in the league being Laker’s part-owner and president, Jeanie Buss, making Hammon’s feat all the more incredible.

Besides being regarded by Gregg Popovich as a great basketball mind and someone with an incredibly high basketball IQ, Hammon has impressed many around the league during her short time in the league. In one of the biggest and most talked about moments of the NBA Summer League, the San Antonio Spurs named Hammon the head-coach for the Spurs’ Vegas Summer League team.

It was unclear how her Summer League head-coaching stint would go after the Spurs lost their first game of the Vegas Summer League to the New York Knicks’ team. However, Hammon was able to rally the team and go on to win six straight games in collecting the Summer League Championship and was praised by many of her players for being a true players coach.

Regardless of her gender, it should be noted that Hammon’s hiring was not about pushing women through the door of the NBA, but simply recognizing her knowledge of the game. Gregg Popovich was quoted by ESPN.

“I don’t know if her perspective is unique… Becky knows what to do on a pick-and-roll just as much as what Tony Parker knows, so I don’t think it’s unique at all.”

The coaching ability that Hammon has shown during her time in the Vegas Summer League is surely just the beginning. This will surely mark just the first step in what looks to be a long tenure in the NBA, especially considering she is under the tutelage of one of the greatest coaches in NBA history, Gregg Popovich.

[Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images]