VIDEO: Video: Summer League championship game highlights
LAS VEGAS — At Summer League, you don’t always get good basketball. But you always get good stories. And the San Antonio Spurs’ Summer League championship was about good stories.
First, there was Becky Hammon, the first ever female Summer League head coach, leading her team to a 6-1 record and the title her in Las Vegas. A year ago, she was playing for the San Antonio Stars. And already, she’s got some head coaching experience.
“I’m just trying to progress as a coach,” Hammon said about her 10 days in Las Vegas. “It was eye-opening in a lot of different areas for me, just how much my mind was reeling during timeouts.”
But Hammon clearly wasn’t reserved in her new role. She took charge in the huddles and gave the refs the business when a call didn’t go her way.
“It was just a great learning process for me,” she said. “And the guys had to take my mistakes – and I made plenty – and we just kept hanging together as a group.”
A big part of that group and another great story was Jonathon Simmons, who was voted the championship game MVP after scoring 23 points on 7-for-14 shooting.
Simmons played at two different junior colleges before finishing his college career at the University of Houston. He played a season in the ABL and then made the Spurs’ D-League team through an open tryout two years ago.
After playing three games for the Brooklyn Nets’ Summer League team, the Spurs gave Simmons an NBA contract. He came to Las Vegas and averaged 17.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.7 steals for the Summer Spurs.
“It’s just a blessing,” Simmons told The Starters after the game on Monday. “I didn’t see it coming. I’m still kind of shocked right now. But I’m just ready to get to work.”
Simmons is a 6-6 shooting guard who can jump out of the gym and had multiple highlight dunks over the last few days of Summer League. He was voted third team All-Defense in the D-League last season.
“I just played to my strengths,” he said. “You give me the drive, I’m going to take the drive. If you give me the jumper, I’m going to take the jumper.”
Down the stretch of the title game, Hammon put the ball in his hands and had him running the offense, even with Spurs vet Kyle Anderson on the floor. Simmons had earned the coach’s trust. And when the championship had been won, one good story had great things to say about the other.
“I already love her,” Simmons said of Hammon, “and I’ve barely [known] here a couple of days. She’s a real cool coach. She’s a player coach. We like that.”