Becky Hammon has been defying odds her entire life, as she went from an undrafted longshot to be recognized as one of the 15 greatest players ever to play in the WNBA. Now, she’s preparing for the biggest challenge in her professional career; Hammon was hired by the San Antonio Spurs for one of their assistant coaching positions.
This announcement made her the first full-time paid female assistant coach in the NBA, but it isn’t the first sign of gender progression in professional basketball. Previously, Cleveland Cavaliers head coach John Lucas hired Lisa Boyer as a shooting coach for team’s practices and home games during the 2001-02 season. Earlier this summer, the Los Angeles Clippers promoted assistant video coordinator Natalie Nakase to a temporary assistant coach position. And who could forget UCLA standout Ann Meyers Drysdale trying out for the Indiana Pacers during training camp in 1979.
What is Hammon’s resume? Well, coming out of high school, college coaches told her that she was too small to play at the next level. Hammon proved them wrong by becoming an All-American during her stay at Colorado State University. She’s a 16-year veteran of the WNBA wars, as the 5-6 guard is a six-time All Star that has played in part of six seasons with the San Antonio Stars. She was left off the 2008 USA Olympic roster to the surprise of all. Hammon went on to lead Russia to a surprising bronze medal finish at the Beijing Games.
It situations like this that have built Hammon’s desire to beat the odds and become the best in her sport. Now, she’s taking on a new challenge, as Hammon is being given a perfect situation to succeed. She can become part of a strong foundation that has been built over the years in San Antonio under Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.
Pop didn’t make this hire for publicity, as he will expect Hammon to offer her basketball IQ, work ethic and interpersonal skills in helping to make his team a better squad to defend their title next season. Hopefully, this hire will allow other NBA franchises to follow suit and hire other qualified female coaches to their staff.