Gregg Popovich says Becky Hammon is an NBA-caliber assistant coach — so she is

Posted: 08/05/2014 in basketball
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I still remember covering the Western Athletic Conference basketball tournament in Albuquerque, N.M. in 1996 and hearing the name Becky Hammon for the first time.

She played for Colorado State – which had absolutely zero tradition at the time – and we were amazed at what we were seeing. A freshman guard who grew up in South Dakota was so much more advanced than anybody on the floor, delivering pinpoint passes, draining long jumpers, being feisty on defense and always in the right place.

Then in the postgame interview session, Hammon could barely move while she politely answered questions. Turned out she was sicker than a dog while putting on such an amazing performance.

Hammon ended up leading the Rams to the NCAA tournament and enjoyed a great college career in which she is easily the best women’s college basketball player in Colorado State history. She has gone on to have a solid WNBA career and is now going to be known for more than the things she did on the court.

You see, Hammon was hired by the San Antonio Spurs as an assistant coach on Tuesday, making her the second female assistant coach in NBA history. Lisa Boyer was the first as an assistant for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2001-02.

There’s something about that Gregg Popovich guy. Always has a handle on things and not afraid to head in a direction that will make the organization better.

He was aware Hammon was interested in entering coaching and invited her to attend practices last season and even threw her into situations involving players and coaches. He saw what he needed to see to know that she could coach people of any gender – including veterans like Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.

“I very much look forward to the addition of Becky Hammon to our staff,” Popovich said in a statement. “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.”

The 37-year-old Hammon is wrapping up her WNBA career – she’s in her 16th season and is a seven-time All-Star – and then will join the Spurs for the 2014-15 season.

I see no reason why this won’t be a good hire. I can see Hammon being on an NBA bench for a long time. If she later chooses to coach women players, this experience will only bolster her knowledge bank.

You see men coaching women’s basketball players all the time. So anybody who has issues about this is looking at it from a short-sighted view.

Hammon has long ago proved she knows the game and I’m sure she’ll be up to the task of coaching at the NBA level.

And if Popovich is saying she’s an NBA-caliber assistant coach, know this: She’s an outstanding coach.

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