Spurs blaze path, hire female assistant coach

Becky Hammon
Becky Hammon, attending a San Antonio Spurs playoff game. (AP)
Becky Hammon
Becky Hammon, attending a San Antonio Spurs playoff game. (AP)

When the rest of the NBA focused their efforts on national players, the Spurs searched overseas to discover new talent. After the success of Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, the league followed suit. Now, while much of the league recycles head coaches and employs assistant retreads, the Spurs found another untapped source to fill out its coaching staff: the WNBA.

In the most Gregg Popovich way possible, the Spurs announced that the team hired Becky Hammon, a soon-to-be-retired WNBA Six-Time All Star, as an assistant coach.  There was no pomp and circumstance, just a brief press release and a scheduled media availability session (which Pop, predictably, will not attend).

In the NBA world, it’s history: Hammons is the first woman to serve as a full-time assistant with a NBA franchise (Lisa Boyer served as a part-time assistant on the 2001-02 Cleveland Cavaliers). In the cantankerous world of Popovich, she’s just another assistant coach, just as Tim Duncan, one of the top ten players to ever play in the NBA, is just another player.

Why was she hired? Her credentials from the Spurs are below, and they should speak for themselves. But there’s another instance of why she’ll fit in just fine in San Antonio’s culture. Last year, while recovering from injury, she joined the Spurs coaching staff as an unofficial intern.

From the San Antonio Express News:

“I’m kind of just there, a fly on the wall soaking up how they run things over there in the film sessions,” Hammon told the Express-News’ Mike Monroe. “I get a lot out of their film sessions, just listening to the coaches go back and forth on what they think is happening on certain plays.”

By all accounts, she impressed players and coaches alike. Then the man who might know Pop the best, the individual who served as the building block of a great franchise chimed in: “She’s willing to learn. Pop is willing to have anyone who has that perspective.”

Duncan learned to cede minutes to elongate his career and win another championship. Kawhi Leonard learned a new jump shot to potentially become of the NBA’s next stars. Bold prediction: Becky Hammon is willing to learn, and I think she’ll wind up alright on the bench.

The Spurs found another source of talent today, it’s going to be fun watch the league follow suit again.

From the Spurs’ official release:

A six-time WNBA All-Star, Hammon has spent the last eight seasons with the San Antonio Stars. She is the Stars all-time leader in assists (1,112) and three-point field goals made (493) while ranking second in franchise history in points (3,442) and games (218). In 2012 Hammon was the top vote getter for the Stars All-Decade Team.

In her WNBA career Hammon has appeared in 445 regular season games, averaging 13.1 points, 3.8 assists and 2.5 rebounds in 28.0 minutes. She has earned All-WNBA First Team honors twice (in 2007 and 2009) and was named to the All-WNBA Second Team in 2005 and 2008.

A three-time All-American at Colorado State, Hammon went unpicked in the 1999 WNBA Draft. She signed with the New York Liberty in May of 1999 and spent eight seasons with the Liberty before being traded to the Stars in a draft night deal in 2007.