Becky Hammon may have needed Greg Popovich to offer her a coaching job, but she has never needed anyone’s endorsement to prove what a powerhouse she truly is.
Although she had been playing basketball since she was essentially a toddler, her professional career really began in 1995 when she entered her freshman year at Colorado State on a full scholarship. As The New Yorker notes, the women of Colorado State did not usually finish with a winning record before Becky came along. During her senior year, though, the team finished 33-3 and Becky set the school record for points, assists, and threes. She was also the leading scorer in the Western Athletic Conference – and still is, for both the men’s and women’s divisions.
After Colorado, Hammon was invited to attend a training camp hosted by the New York Liberty and was soon offered a contract to join the WNBA. Despite her mere 5 foot 6 inch frame, she was an absolute force to be reckoned with on the court. “Her size never mattered,” says Liberty’s head coach, Richie Adubato to The New Yorker, “When she drove to the basket, it didn’t matter who was in there. She had one shot blocked, I think, in four years.”
Hammon was traded to the San Antonio Silver Spurs in 2007 and was making the league’s top salary of $95,000 per year when she was approached by the Russian Premier League and offered a $2 million contract. Eventually, she moved to Russia, became a citizen, played for their national team in the 2008 Olympics, and joined the C.S.K.A. This move wasn’t well received by her American fans, however, and even her parents begged her to reconsider and come home.
In 2012, on her way back to the USA after the 2012 London Olympics, Hammon managed to sit next to legendary coach Gregg Popovich, and this led to history being made. After a torn ACL ended her basketball season the following year, she reached out to Popovich to see if she could sit in on some of the Spurs’ practices, and he agreed. It didn’t take long before Popvich made his offer and the headlines declared that Becky Hammon would be the first full-time female coach in NBA history.
There is absolutely no denying how effective Hammon is as a coach. Paul Gasol has been quoted as saying, “I’m telling you, Becky Hammon can coach. I’m not saying she can coach pretty well. I’m not saying she can coach enough to get by. I’m not saying she can coach almost at the level of the NBA’s male coaches. I’m saying: Becky Hammon can coach NBA basketball. Period.”
Becky has made such an impact on the Spurs and on the basketball scene in general, that when Popovitch was out for “personal business,” many fans wondered why Hammon wasn’t the choice to sub in for the head coach. Obviously, Tim Duncan did a fantastic job, but Hammon has a significant lead on him in the coaching department and seems like the more obvious choice.
Just a few days ago, Josh Paredes reported that it’s more than likely the New York Knicks will be interviewing Becky Hammon for their head coach position. Other job candidates include the likes of Spur Ime Udoka, Pat Delaney, and Chris Fleming; Hammon is just as qualified, if not more, than any of these coaching greats.
Becky Hammon will continue to do great things in the NBA. That’s actually a significant understatement, and there is no doubt that we won’t have to wait long at all to hear that she has accepted a head coaching job in the very near future.
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Image Source: AP Images