Quiet Spurs make big noise with Hammon


VIDEO: Becky Hammon is introduced by the Spurs

Last week, when virtually nobody was looking, point guard Tony Parker signed a three-year contract extension.

That’s usually the way the Spurs do business.

But for a franchise that usually goes out of its way to avoid creating even a ripple in the pool, the Spurs have made loud splashes this summer. The first was hiring longtime European coach Ettore Messina as an assistant coach. That was just a warmup.

The addition of WNBA star Becky Hammon to the coaching staff is nothing less than a cannonball.

Hammon, who is retiring as a player at the end of this season, will become the first full-time female assistant coach in NBA history.

Lisa Boyer was a volunteer assistant coach for the Cavaliers under John Lucas during the 2001-02 season, but she did not sit on the bench during games or travel with the team.

Make no mistake. This is big, potentially a game-changer and another milestone for women in sports and as professionals in general. Hammon will have the same duties as the rest of the coaching staff; scouting, writing reports, game-planning and offering her opinions in coaching sessions.

“In some ways it is trailblazing,” Hammon said on a conference call Tuesday afternoon. “But so many other women have done so many great things. I’m just following in their path.”

“I very much look forward to the addition of Becky Hammon to our staff,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said in a statement from the team. “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.”

Hammon is a 16-year WNBA veteran and was voted one of the 15 all-time best players in league history. Ironically, an ACL injury that forced her to sit out last season may have opened the door to coaching. While in San Antonio rehabilitating during the offseason, Hammon asked Spurs general manager R.C. Buford and Popovich if she could attend practices and sit in on meetings. A connection was quickly established and both sides were on the road toward making history, though with no intention of grabbing the spotlight.

“Coach Pop made it clear to me I was being hired because of my basketball IQ and my qualifications,” Hammon said. ” ‘It just so happens you’re a woman.’ “

It is, of course, the Spurs’ way to push at the envelope, leap outside the box of conventional thinking. They won their fifth NBA title in June with a roster consisting of 10 international players that came from eight different countries. Messina has spent more than a quarter century as perhaps the top coach in Europe and was widely regarded for years as one who could make the jump across the Atlantic to thrive in the NBA. It took the Spurs to actually make it happen.

Still, it is a quantum leap to make Hammon a woman at the highest level of the men’s game.

“People have always asked me if a woman could play in the NBA,” Hammon said. “I tell them no, because there is a difference. The men are too big, too strong. But when it comes to coaching, game-planning and scheming, there’s no reason that a woman can’t do anything a man can do.”

So could a woman one day become a head coach in the NBA?

“I think anything is possible,” Hammon said.

46 Comments

  1. Max says:

    Guess I will have to start supporting those SPURS!!~~~ What a great day in the NBA!

  2. olbl says:

    i forgot the tnt crew ! thanks to them too they are funny and talk real

  3. olbl says:

    Boring ring ring ring ring ?
    the spurs are the only light in this nba dark age of hype, marketing propagande, dirty referees ,”arcade games” and egocentric average uneducated players thiking they are the real deal.
    the spurs, durant, lebron james. thanks for the fresh air

    • LLBJ says:

      Average players? That’s why you sit on your couch spectating them, SPECTATOR. Probably better then you’ll ever be

  4. Akos Brasnyo says:

    Is she allowed to go into the locker room?

  5. mchoya33 says:

    Reason #768 why our NBA is such an amazing game: It thrives by attracting and cultivating the world’s best athletes – mind, body & soul – from every race, Nationality, religious background, sexual orientation and gender. From Cheryl Miller to C. Vivian to Becky Hammon, et la…for myself and my nieces as well as my husband and son, Brava

  6. Smart marketing move by Pop. While he doesn’t care what others think, or if anyone else approves of his coaching, he is continuing to push boundaries beyond the status quo. He’s setting himself up for a very interesting HOF profile, with so many firsts in the NBA.

    Of course, the five trophies don’t hurt either.

    Oh? Did I say five?

    I meant five . . . and counting!

  7. gbh says:

    Just a PR stunt all dealing with the typical PC stunt. What could she possibly offer to grown men that have been playing the game and winning games? The WNBA the only game that plays with a non regulation basketball, but at the same time they are dunking and palming this volleyball in a NBA basketball skin.

  8. Blanche K. says:

    Ops, correction to previous post.

    Becky Hammon is her name,
    Basketball is her game.
    Pop always picks the best,
    Other teams may have the rest.

    Yea, Becky!

  9. Blanche K. says:

    Becky Hammond is her name,
    Basketball is here game.
    Pop always picks the best,
    Other teams may have the rest.

    Yea, Becky!

  10. John says:

    next big nba head coach

  11. William says:

    Spurs showing again that they are an organization committed to giving the best and brightest their opportunity.

    Great organizations make the league better.

  12. tso says:

    Great move! Popovich is one of the greatest coaches in NBA history, and he knows what he’s doing.

  13. Kobe Fan says:

    Good move. I think her team in the wnba can destroy the the lakers

  14. Grapefruit juice says:

    The Spurs are becoming the most beloved team in history of any sport and they surely deserve it!

  15. bob says:

    she looks like she 60

  16. MJ says:

    Those people calling the Spurs “boring”, aren’t real basketball fans. If you don’t appreciate the way they play, you’re not a real basketball fan. Either you’re just bitter, or you’re that casual watch-when-i-can know it all fake fan.

    • Vlad says:

      Yes…it s what I call a typical highlights fan…not capable to understand that basketball is much more than dunks

  17. Brave Individual says:

    Ms. Hammon never got anything served her in a silver platter. She had to defy the odds and prove herself every time (kinda like Kobe Bryant). She opened doors where no doors existed. Throughout her career she has defined and refined what can be done. There is a very poignant (and funny) picture of a 5-foot-nothing Becky Hammon guarding a 7-foot WNBA center (I forget her name) which kinda illustrates who she is. It could be this fighting spirit, this ability to see what is not entirely visible, that got her the job.

    It is well earned, well deserved.

  18. jerry says:

    go spurs!

  19. Karlo Garcia says:

    I’m so thrilled for Becky Hammon,I have been following her career from the start. NBA making history.

  20. Pablo says:

    “The man with a new idea is a Crank until the idea succeeds”… and Pop was a crank several times… but he had 4 rings… so maybe he is not so crank…

  21. Rich says:

    FINALLY ! Something to spice up the most boring team in the NBA.

    • TEG says:

      still calling the team “boring” is even MORE BORING! either you appreciate their way or don’t even bother watching basketball

      • vm says:

        Did you not watch any of the regular season, and especially the post season where the Spurs dominated the league with their finesse and perfection? People who cannot appreciate the brilliance of Spurs basketball just do not understand the game.

    • Del says:

      Boring??? Didn’t LeBron say it was the best basketball he had ever seen when the Spurs beat the Heat? How can they be boring, I think LBJ knows what he’s talking about!

    • Carlo says:

      Oh, another one who whatches only “written” b’ball.

    • harriethehawk says:

      Lol

  22. harriethehawk says:

    A trailblazer, I like it!!!!!

  23. Ite says:

    Didn’t she renounce her American citizenship and became Russian so that she can play with the Russian Basketball National team? Just wanting to know.

    • Dual Citizenship says:

      No, she never renounced US citizenship. The US Women’s Basketball Team didn’t even invite her to the camp, while the Russians offered her a spot on their Olympic Team. She felt her window of opportunity to ever compete at the Olympic level was closing so she accepted the offer. The Russians moved incredibly fast to get her Russian citizenship so she could play for them. It was a dual citizenship scenario, which is very very common (including this commenter), and which Ms. Hammon has since reverted (I think).

    • jr says:

      Dual citizenship she played ball in Russia in the wnba off season. Russia gave her an invite to camp the US did not.

  24. Chris says:

    Knowing Pop he’s eying her as a potential successor.

  25. Jimmy says:

    Great signing!

  26. Sunshine says:

    Awesome! There are a lot of women with bright basketball minds; it’s nice to see some of them getting a shot in the NBA.

  27. TEG says:

    great post. Spurs have done well this off-season

  28. Bob Ellison says:

    Well deserved. She earned it. Just check her b-ball history on Wikipedia. Another win-win for the Spurs, & the growth of the NBA, & society..

  29. Sky23 says:

    Good for the Spurs. Great for the NBA & WNBA organizations. I hope this will one day be part of the norm. In the meantime, I’m very happy for Becky. She worked hard in her career to get this far.

  30. Be real says:

    Cool move NBA. Coming together of WNBA and NBA. So will Suns pick Mercury players to take them into playoff or further? … Why not/ Who and What is stopping them joining SUNS and why not release Bledsoe, so he goes to play with CAVS/LBJ. Create history SUNS. Hire few WNBA-Mercury stars (DT, etc) to your roster