July 3rd, 2015 was an historic day in the world of sports as Becky Hammon became the first ever female head coach in the NBA’s Summer League when the San Antonio Spurs announced she would coach their team. Hammon led the Spurs to the Las Vegas Summer League title on July 20, 2015, becoming the first female NBA head coach to win a summer league title.
Although winning the Summer League is far different than leading a team to an NBA championship, it gave her immediate credibility and also opened the door to Hammon to perhaps one day becoming the first women’s head coach in NBA history. Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich thinks it’s only a matter of time before a woman is a head coach in the NBA. He spoke about this possibility shortly after Hammon was named head coach of the Summer League: “I think a female coaching a team these days has a lot to do with the people on the teams maturing as individuals, as members of a society understanding that it’s not about any of those things. It’s about talent. It’s about respect. People like Becky over time will gain respect and people will understand that this is possible. It can happen. It’s like women getting the vote. Think about how long that took before change was made.”
Taking Hammon’s sex aside, she has the background to become an NBA head coach as she was an outstanding college and professional basketball player. Hammon attended Colorado State University from 1995-1999. She would go on to set school records for points (2,740), points per game (21.92), field goals made (918), free throw made (539), three pointers made (365) and assist (538). These accomplishments helped her become a three time All American. During the 1998-1999 season, Hammon led the Rams to a 33-3 record and guided them to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16.
Despite her accolades in college, Hammon went undrafted in the 1999 WNBA draft. On May 12th 1999, she signed a contract with the New York Liberty. Although she was a backup to point guard Teresa Weatherspoon, teammates, fans and opposing players took notice of her aggressive and relentless play on both offense and defense. Hammon would help the New York Liberty to the WNBA Finals in three of her first four seasons. Then in 2003 Hammon would receive an individual honor by being named to her first All Star team. Hammon would go onto making five more All-Star teams throughout her professional career. In 2007 she was traded to the San Antonio Silver Stars. During that season she averaged 18.8 points which at the time was a career high until she averaged 19.5 points in 2009. Hammon would retire following the 2014 season.
In August of 2014, Hammon was hired as an assistant coach for the Spurs, becoming the first full-time, salaried female coach in NBA history. Hammon’s contribution to the staff made an impression on head coach Gregg Popovich. This would help land her the job as head coach of the Summer League the following summer.
For those who think it’s farfetched for a woman to be a head coach in the NBA you’d better think again because Becky Hammon is on her way to becoming one. Later this year America may elect its first woman president, so why not have a woman as an NBA head coach. Becky Hammon is as capable as any man to be a coach in the NBA.
The image of Becky Hammon is courtesy of nba.com