Tim Duncan and head coach Gregg Popovich have been together with the San Antonio Spurs since 1997. The original “Big Three,” Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan have been together since 2004 and are often overlooked in the basketball world as fans realized the overall predictability of the team on a year-to-year basis. The Big Three, Gregg Popovich and the rest of the San Antonio Spurs have had a handful of successful seasons. To add on to this historic franchise though, the Spurs found yet another way to make NBA history. The San Antonio Spurs have officially added WNBA super-star Becky Hammon to the coaching staff.
Becky Hammon has played in the WNBA for 16 years. She has played for the San Antonio Stars since 2007 and will retire after this season. Hammon has officially signed to be a full-time assistant coach to the Stars’ brother-team down the street, the Spurs. She will be the first ever female assistant coach for an NBA team and will play a significant coaching role with 2013-2014 NBA Finals Champions in hopes to win a back-to-back championship. Hammon will be the first ever full-time female assistant coach in a full regular NBA season.
In 16 years, Hammon has played with the San Antonio Stars and also the New York Liberty. She is a six-time WNBA All-Star and has proved she can keep up with the big boys by her individual statistics. For the Stars, Hammon is the all-time leader in various ways. She leads in assists and three-pointers and has appeared in nearly 445 games in the regular season. Throughout her WNBA career, she has averaged a total of 13.1 points, 3.8 assists, and 2.5 rebounds per game. Hammon announced that this would be her final year with the WNBA and would retire at the conclusion of this season, but shocked the world when she announced that she will be taking her talents to assist the prestigious Coach Gregg Popovich.
Coach Popovich has had the opportunity to invite Hammon to coach the Spurs in the past. He chose her to be an official assistant coach based on her basketball IQ, work ethic and overall talent. He stated that Hammon is qualified to coach alongside him despite her gender. Coach Pop briefly mentioned in May that he believed women can coach men’s basketball. His opinion was stated after recent news of another WNBA ex-basketball player, Natalie Nakase, helping to coach in the Los Angeles Clippers’ 2014 summer camp. She sat on the bench and voiced her leadership from there, but her Clippers role is no match to what is in store for Hammon and the Spurs.
Becky Hammon reached out to her coach at the conclusion of the 2012-2013 season about her dreams of becoming a basketball coach after her years as a player. Word eventually made its way to Coach Pops and from there, he invited Hammon to help coach the Spurs in many of the 2013-2014 practices. The 37-year old WNBA veteran will retire in a few months, but will officially open a new chapter in her life. Her passion and dedication to basketball may end on the court as a player, but her passion and dedication will continue to flourish only a few short steps away now that Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs have officially stated that Becky Hammon will be the newest addition to the Spurs coaching staff.
Commentary by Tricia Manalansan
Photo Courtesy of Katie Haugland – Creativecommons License