Becky Hammon Rumors
Becky Hammon has had quite the summer. San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich entrusted NBA Summer League head coaching duties on Hammon, making her the first female head coach in NBA Summer League history. If the story were to end there it’d still be one of the most significant storylines of the year. But Hammon and the Spurs weren’t satisfied with just an appearance in Summer League. No, they wanted to take home the championship. And they did. Hammon guided the Spurs to the Summer League title in a win over the Phoenix Suns. Since then Hammon has rightly received much laud. On Sunday, she was recognized once again for her contributions – this time on the court. The New York Liberty inducted Hammon into their Ring of Honor, a recognition bestowed on players “who have made the most significant contributions to the Liberty’s tradition of excellence and to the growth of the WNBA.”
So, when Popovich brought Hammon in during her final season as a WNBA player, in 2013, as she rehabbed a knee injury, she talked about basketball with Popovich and President of Sports Franchises and General Manager R.C. Buford. And her knowledge about the game was clear. But that doesn’t mean she was a yes woman. “If she literally spoke the exact language, Pop probably wouldn’t have brought her in,” Buford said by phone Saturday. “She had her own ideas. She knew how to handle herself, and as Pop said, she knew when to speak and when to shut up. You have to have both to be successful.”
But Hammon displayed many of the traits that a successful coach needs. “I think she has the ability to be a head coach in the NBA but there are only 30 such jobs and it is extremely competitive to get one no matter if you are male or female,” said Lakers Executive Vice President Jeanie Buss, one of the highest-ranking female executives in sports, via text Sunday. “If that is her desire I encourage her to follow that path,” Buss said. “Being a woman is not a reason to stop. Continue doing outstanding work and the opportunity will come.”
Silver’s comments echoed those that he made earlier this month. “I first met her in this league when she was playing for the Liberty early on in the league,” Silver told ESPN’s Holly Rowe. “Her composure was fantastic and also it says a lot about those Spurs, Coach Pop, R.C. Buford, Peter Holt. People need to be given opportunities. I obviously [was given] an opportunity by David Stern in the NBA. To see her get that opportunity, I have no doubt, as I said earlier, that we’re going to have a female coach in the NBA one day. There should be no barriers”
“I hired her because she was in my coaches meetings for an entire year because she was injured,” Popovich said in a radio interview on KNBR in San Francisco. “She’s got opinions and solid notions about basketball. Obviously, she was a great player. As a point guard, she’s a leader, she’s fiery, she’s got intelligence, and our guys just respected the heck out of her, so she’s coaching with us, she’s running drills. That’s why we made her a full-time coach and gave her the opportunity to coach at summer league.”
In conversations with multiple team executives and decision-makers around the NBA, there is no question Hammon has gained traction as a potentially serious head-coaching candidate. Just as important, the conventional thinking about what teams look for in a coach have begun to shift dramatically.
“Why not?” one Eastern Conference executive told CBSSports.com. “She has the qualities necessary, and with an organization’s backing, she could do it. She’s obviously learned under the best.” Another Eastern Conference executive said, “She would be high on my list. She’s short-list worthy.”