To say the least, the gender barrier in men’s professional sports, specifically coaching, is an interesting topic. One we don’t discuss very often. But, we should. And there’s no woman truly liked and adored more than San Antonio Spurs’ assistant coach, Becky Hammon.
Earlier this summer, Hammon was promoted to fill James Borrego’s shoes next to Head Coach, Gregg Popovich. Prior to this announcement, she interviewed for the vacant head coaching position with the Milwaukee Bucks. I believe she should’ve been hired, but it will happen soon enough. Meanwhile, Borrego is now the new Head Coach for the Charlotte Hornets.
It all began on August 5, 2014, when Hammon was hired by San Antonio as an assistant — the first female, full-time assistant coach in NBA history. It just so happens that she’s the first woman to be a full-time assistant in any of the four major professional sports in North America.
In a media statement released at the time Hammon was initially hired by the Spurs, Coach Popovich stated: “I very much look forward to the addition of Becky Hammon to our staff. 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.”
That’s high praise coming from Coach Pop. Talk about making a splash. And throughout her collegiate and WNBA career, splash would be the defining word to describe her game.
She was simply lethal from the land of plenty during her playing days. Triples galore raining wetness from the sky. Arguably the best shooting stroke we’ve seen from a man or a woman in the history of basketball. You may think I’m crazy, but I’m not joking around. Not to go unnoticed were her superior ball handling skills. And Hammon’s small WNBA frame, listed at 5-foot-6 and 136 pounds, never kept her from attacking and finishing at the tin off the dribble-drive. Did I to mention Becky’s innate ability to knock down mid-range jump shots and her cash, money free throw shooting? My apologies. In regards to the charity stripe, Hammon shot 100-percent from the line in her 2014 season with the San Antonio Stars. Wow. Not her career numbers — she knocked down about 90-percent from the line in her WNBA career (New York Liberty — 1999-2006, San Antonio Stars — 2007-2014). Still, very impressive.
How about a Guinness World Record for most free throws made in a minute? Hammon drilled 38 of 42 attempts in 60-seconds to claim this title. Goodness.
The six-time WNBA All-Star has had her jersey retired twice. Becky’s No. 25 jersey was retired by not only the San Antonio Stars, but also my her alma mater, Colorado State. Another No. 25 jersey hangs in the rafters of Moby Arena in Fort Collins, CO.
As a Colorado State alumnus myself, her collegiate play is very near and dear to my heart. During Hammon’s senior season (1998-99) with the Colorado State Rams, she surpassed University of Utah great, Keith Van Horn, as the Western Athletic Conference’s (WAC’s) all-time leading scorer. And folks, I was there at Moby Arena that day. Unreal.
I also watched Becky help lead the Rams to a 33-3 record in that magical 1998-99 season. These ladies hosted two NCAA Tourney games at Moby, and I was present for both. Hammon & Co. took those Rams to the Sweet Sixteen. And talk about raucous. I’ve been inside of Mile High Stadium to watch the Denver Broncos in an AFC Championship Game. I was with my then fiance, and now wife, at a Denver Nuggets’ playoff game back in 2009 when Carmelo Anthony & Co. advanced to the Western Conference Finals. Believe me, Pepsi Center was absolutely hopping that night.
Neither experience compared to the decibel level that was reached inside of Moby Arena for those two NCAA Tourney games. It was utterly ridiculous.
I’ll leave you with this. There is zero doubt in my mind that Becky Hammon will be the first female head coach in the NBA. For that matter, all four major professional sports in North America. It’d be about time.