The Spurs announced the hiring of former WNBA superstar Becky Hammon:
ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst initially reported the Spurs will make Hammon an assistant coach:
Spurs have named retiring WNBA star Becky Hammon as assistant coach, will be first ever woman assistant in NBA.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) August 5, 2014
As SportsCenter pointed out on Twitter, Hammon becomes the second-ever female assistant coach in the league:
CORRECTION: Becky Hammon is 2nd woman to join an NBA coaching staff. Lisa Boyer was an assistant for Cavs in 2001-02. http://t.co/0Zw769kspl— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 5, 2014
Hammon is a 16-year veteran of the WNBA who will retire at the conclusion of the season. The 37-year-old guard is a six-time All-Star and has spent parts of eight seasons with the San Antonio Stars.
While this hiring may be surprising to some, it doesn't come entirely out of left field. Per Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News, Hammon acted as a coaching intern of sorts for the Spurs this past season:
#Spurs continue to blaze trails with signing of Becky Hammon as asst. coach; she was coaching intern last season— Mike Monroe (@Monroe_SA) August 5, 2014
According to the organization's official press release, head coach Gregg Popovich was impressed enough with Hammon's coaching ability to make her a full-time part of the staff.
"I very much look forward to the addition of Becky Hammon to our staff," Popovich said. "Having observed her working with our team this past season, I'm confident her basketball IQ, work ethic and interpersonal skills will be a great benefit to the Spurs."
This is a huge hire that could open the door for more women to make an impact at the NBA level. As pointed out by Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, this is simply another case of the Spurs being progressive:
Spurs announce they have hired six-time WNBA All-Star Becky Hammon as an assistant coach. Always a step ahead of everybody else.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) August 5, 2014
Interestingly enough, this isn't the Spurs' first assistant coach signing that has made waves this offseason, per ESPN's Marc Stein:
Quite a groundbreaking staff of assistant coaches Pop has assembled for next season with the hires of Becky Hammon and Ettore Messina— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) August 5, 2014
The addition of Italian Ettore Messina was considered a big move in its own right, but the Hammon hiring is one that could truly change the course of the league.
The Los Angeles Clippers broke down some barriers during the summer when head coach Doc Rivers made assistant video coordinator Natalie Nakase a temporary assistant coach. Hammon getting hired is a sign of further progression.
Will Becky Hammon prove to be a smart hire by the Spurs?
Hammon is immediately being put in a position to succeed with the Spurs. She will join a championship team with a veteran presence and quite possibly the best head coach in basketball already in place.
That means there is currently a strong foundation that Hammon can become a part of and help build upon. If Hammon has success in San Antonio, other teams might follow suit when it comes to seeking out and hiring female coaches.
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