WNBA veteran Becky Hammon is making history and stirring up a little chatter once again. The San Antonio Stars guard announced her retirement at the end of the 2014 season, and has now signed on to be an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs next season. This makes Hammon the first woman to ever be named a full-time assistant coach in the NBA regular season.
Hammon spent time with the Spurs last winter while rehabbing a knee injury, and she had the opportunity to work closely with Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. “Having observed her working with our team this past season, I’m confident her basketball IQ, work ethic, and interpersonal skills will be a great benefit to the Spurs,” Popovich said according to the Associated Press.
Hammon made headlines back in 2008, when she first suited up in the Olympics for the Russian national team. Snubbed by a non-selection from the U.S. team and eligible for a Russian citizenship due to her time played there, Hammon had her mind on one thing: playing basketball, no matter what. “Walking into an Olympic opening ceremony, that’s a once in-a-lifetime opportunity," she told the Seattle Times. "If you could go play for so-and-so or sit on your couch and watch, which would you do?”
Clearly, Hammon is a woman unfazed by a glass ceiling or two. To her, the question of whether or not a woman can coach men, simply isn’t a question at all. “As far as women coaching men, it’s really silly. People ask me all the time, will there ever be a woman player in the NBA?” Hammon reflects. “To be honest, no. There are differences. The guys are too big, too strong and that’s just the way it is. But when it comes to things of the mind, things like coaching, game-planning, coming up with offensive and defensive schemes, there’s no reason why a woman couldn’t be in the mix and shouldn’t be in the mix.”