In a characteristically bold move, Gregg Popovich, head coach of the 2014 NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs, has hired the league’s first-ever full-time female assistant coach for the regular season. Becky Hammon, a six-time WNBA All-Star for the San Antonio Stars, is considered one of the best players in the history of the league. She has scored 5,809 points (seventh highest in WNBA history) and racked up 1,687 assists (fourth highest in league history) over 445 career games played.
The five-foot-six guard will stand 17 inches shorter than the tallest Spurs (Tiago Splitter, Austin Daye, and Tim Duncan are all listed at six-foot-eleven), but the team says she measures up. “Our players really respond to her. She’s just a natural,” Popovich says. “Pop,” as the coach is commonly known, also said in a statement that her basketball IQ and work ethic will be a “great benefit to the Spurs.”
Hammon, who will retire after the WNBA season concludes in August, is not the only key move Popovich and the Spurs have made this offseason. Tim Duncan will return for another season and both Pop and his longtime point guard, Tony Parker, signed extensions. But hiring Hammon is sure to make waves. She has spent time with the Spurs in the past, and has immense respect for her new boss. “Coach Popovich is born with [leadership ability]. He does it naturally,” she says.
In the immediate future, Hammon is attempting to guide the Stars to the playoffs in her final season as a player. Long term, she can learn plenty from one of the greatest coaches to ever roam the sidelines.
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