Becky Hammon has been on the verge of NBA history for a few years now, as the clear frontrunner to become the league's first female head coach. The last thing she wants is for that status to be what gets her the job.
Speaking with the Associated Press, Hammon said she wants a team to hire her for her qualifications as Gregg Popovich's top assistant and a former All-Star player, not because it wants to make history:
“It’s huge and important. It’s something that can’t be (checking) the box,” the Spurs assistant told The Associated Press. “You have to hire the best person. Half the world’s population hasn’t been tapped for their mind and ability and skill sets in the sports world. It’s something that needs to change.”
“Please don’t hire me to check a box. That’s the worst thing you can do for me … Hire me because of my skill sets and coaching, who am I as a person, hire me for those.”
Hammon's hunt for one of the NBA's 30 head coaching positions has progressed to the point that she has interviewed with multiple teams. She obviously didn't get those jobs, though, and has come away from at least one hiring process feeling like the team was never really interested in her.
When so many teams already have entrenched coaches and only a few reachable positions open up a year, that can make the whole process feel like a lengthy journey:
“There’s 30 jobs and they are incredibly hard to get,” Hammon said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “When I saw there are 30 jobs, not all 30 are available, so I’m really talking about three or four and they are really hard to get.”
Of course, at least on paper, Hammon's resume speaks for itself.
Forget history, Becky Hammon is clearly qualified to be an NBA head coach
Hammon was a six-time All-Star in her 15-year WNBA career and has been an assistant under Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs since 2014, when she became the league's first full-time female assistant.
She has steadily risen through the ranks since her hiring, earning a promotion to Popovich’s top assistant in 2018 and getting experience as a head coach for the Spurs’ Summer League team and in exhibition games in the NBA bubble. She also made history last season when she worked as acting head coach for a game after Popovich was ejected, becoming the first woman in NBA history to lead an NBA team during a regular season game.
As far as endorsements go, Popovich, a man who knows a thing or two about coaching, has said she's ready for a head coaching job because of her abilities. She has also earned strong reviews from Spurs players who have worked under her.
In total, Hammon has seven seasons of assistant coaching experience, multiple instances of working as a professional head coach and the endorsement of arguably the greatest coach in NBA history under her belt. Considering how some players can go straight into NBA head coaching and others have only needed one season as an assistant under their belt, it's hard to argue she isn't qualified for one of those 30 jobs.
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