WNBA's Becky Hammon Breaks Glass Ceiling As Spurs Assistant Coach

WNBA's Becky Hammon Breaks Glass Ceiling As Spurs Assistant Coach
Becky Hammon at the San Antonio Spurs' presser announcing her hiring

@BeckyHammon on Pop's reason for hiring her: "I’m hiring you because you’re a good fit here and you just happen to be a woman."

"I'm just thrilled for the opportunity to coach these unbelievable athletes" - Becky Hammon #GoSpursGo

Retiring from the WNBA after 16 seasons won't mean settling into a rocking chair for 37 year old Becky Hammon.

Instead, the six-time WNBA All-Star, San Antonio Silver Stars guard, and former Olympian for Russia will stay in San Antonio and  step into history as just the second woman ever to be hired for a bench position in the NBA.

Hammon led Russia to a bronze medal in the Summer Olympics, and raised the ire of Americans by accepting their invitation

Hammon led Russia to a bronze medal in the Summer Olympics, and raised the ire of Americans by accepting their invitation

Credit  San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich holder of five NBA Championship titles, for spotting her potential.   As he said on the Spurs' website:

“I very much look forward to the addition of Becky Hammon to our staff. 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.”

Coach Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs Coach, on Hammon's hiring

Hammon, a fierce, driven, intelligent, and tenacious competitor, has been working with the Spurs for a year, and has made no secret of her desire to coach.

Popovich told NBA Inside Stuff in March of this year.

"She talks the game. She understands the game."

In May, as reported by the Washington Post, Popovich told reporters that he was very open to hiring a female for a coaching position, as long as she was talented.

And, he teased to Inside Stuff, "she knows when to talk, and when to shut up."

Hammon can certainly play the game. A future NBA Hall of Famer, Hammon is the Stars' all-time leader in assists (1,112) and three-point field goals made (493). She ranks second in franchise history in points (3,442) and games (218).  She's averaged 13.1 ppg over her 16 seasons in the WNBA.

In 2012 Hammon was the top vote getter for the Stars All-Decade Team Named one of the WNBA’s Top 15 Players of All-Time in July of 2011, Hammon ranks seventh in WNBA history in points (with 5,809), fourth in assists (1,687) and sixth in games (445).

Basketball pioneer Nancy Lieberman

Basketball pioneer Nancy Lieberman, first woman to manage the NBA's Developmental League

I haven't found any negative tweets yet, but some of greatest players in several sports thought this was a great move by the Spurs, and weighed in on Twitter:

Nancy Lieberman ‏@NancyLieberman 

Congrats to my friend Becky Hammon for being hired by the San Antonio Spurs as Asst. Coach. So proud of everything she's accomplished #NBA

Congrats @BeckyHammon. That's BIG TYME!!

"@BeckyHammon's basketball I.Q., work ethic and interpersonal skills will be a great benefit to the @Spurs." BIG #thumbsup Gregg Popovich!

Congrats @BeckyHammon - boundaries are meant to be broken

Sportswriters of all genres and genders hailed the move.  NHL.com's Dan Rosen was one of them:

If she can coach, she can coach. Becky Hammon and the San Antonio Spurs just broke down another barrier. Excellent news for sports world.

According to the Seattle Times, Lisa Boyer,who’s currently an associate head women’s basketball coach at South Carolina, was the first woman to land a position on a NBA bench when she worked for John Lucas’ staff with the Cleveland Cavaliers the 2001-02 NBA season.

One major difference is that Boyer, according to the Associated Press, was not paid by the Cavaliers and did not travel with the team, instead working with players and coaches. It was a natural extension of her job as an assistant with the now-defunct Cleveland Rockers of the WNBA.

That makes Hammon the first full-time, PAID female coach in NBA. Terms of her contract were not disclosed. But a barrier has been broken. Who will follow?

And what do Token Female's readers think about the hire?

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    Alison Moran

    Writing and broadcasting are my life, especially about women's sports and women's issues. I believe in God, Title IX, equal pay and equal rights for all mankind. Recently, I became the guardian of a beautiful, inquisitive little girl. Occasionally, you'll find me 'mommy blogging.' Read all about it!

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