Finally, after years of speculating not if, but when Becky Hammon would get her shot to get to run her own team, the day has come. Hammon was recently named the new head coach of the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces.
A 3x All-American at Colorado State in the mid 90’s, Hammon went undrafted by the WNBA in her rookie season in 1999. Eventually, she would go on to be signed by the New York Liberty. There she would initially back up Teresa Weatherspoon before taking over the point guard role when Weatherspoon retired. She would spend 7 seasons with the Liberty before injuries would knock her out temporarily. It wouldn’t long that she was out, however. Returning to the W in 2007 she was traded to the then San Antonio Silver Stars where, along with some stints playing overseas in Russia, she would finish her playing career. Then it was time to transition to the next phase of her career.
By the time she retired from playing in 2014 she would finish as a 6x All-Star, 2x All-WNBA First Team, 2x All-WNBA Second Team, and the all time assist leader in the league. Her number 25 would go on to be retired by Colorado State in 2005 and by San Antonio in 2016. Not too bad for someone who was initially too small and slow coming out of high school.
Waiting In The Wings
Hammon’s legacy in San Antonio would only continue to grow post-retirement when Gregg Popovich hired her as one of his assistant coaches. She would only be the second woman to ever coach in the NBA as of 2014 and has been widely respected as one of the best minds in the game by both players and coaches alike.
“I’ve played with some of the best players of this generation … and I’ve played under two of the sharpest minds in the history of sports, in Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich. And 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.“
In the past few years Becky has been continuously spoken of, as well as interviewed, when it comes to head coaching vacancies in the NBA. But this year also happened to see a particularly high number of WNBA openings as well and the W is too smart to have let her slip away. What the women’s game has gained will certainly be the men’s games’ loss. Most thought she’d wait it out until Pop retired and would be next to inherit the crown from him for the Spurs job. But after 7 years the time for waiting has passed. And as noted earlier, she still has ties to San Antonio roots seeing as the Aces are the relocated Silver Stars.
She inherits an Aces team that has seen a lot of recent success under former head coach Bill Laimbeer, having appeared in 3 of the last 4 conference finals as well as one WNBA Championship Final. They also boast a star studded roster that includes Chelsea Gray, Kelsey Plum, Dearica Hamby, Angel McCoughtry, as well as 2020 MVP A’ja Wilson.
Becky Hammon is no doubt going to be a big success as she finally takes center stage in a league that has seen its popularity boom in the last few years. And for those that see her taking a head coaching job in the WNBA as a step “back” or “down”, I will leave it to her words about how she feels about the opportunity…..
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