The San Antonio Spurs made history last season when they hired WNBA great Becky Hammon to be the first full-time assistant coach in the NBA. This summer, Hammon was given the keys to the Spurs' Summer League squads in Utah and Las Vegas. All she did was lead San Antonio to a Summer League title in Vegas.
Hammon's work this summer has garnered high praise from around the league, which brings up the distinct possibility that she could become the first woman to be named an NBA head coach. Hammon recently told USA TODAY Sports' Sam Amick that her ultimate goal is to be a head coach somewhere, and she mentioned the NBA as an option.
Based on her work this summer and under head coach Gregg Popovich for the big club, there's growing evidence that she'd be cut out for the job. Spurs forward Jarrell Eddie praised Hammon, telling Les Carpenter of The Guardian that "she does her job and does it well."
Eddie was impressed by Hammon's ability to be intense without also acting like a screaming lunatic, which helps her command respect and get the most out of her players. Eddie also made it a point to say that Hammon being a woman doesn't change how the players view her as a coach:
"We don't look at it as female or anything, she's the coach and we just listen," Spurs forward Jarrell Eddie said Sunday afternoon.
Former Brooklyn Nets executive Bobby Marks echoed the praise:
I know this is a bold statement. If I was running a team and had a head coaching opening. The first call would be to Becky Hammon.— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) July 21, 2015
Hammon is as qualified as any current assistant coach in the NBA. She is paying her dues and working from the bottom up.— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) July 21, 2015
Trust me I am not hiring her off wining a summer league championship. Tutored by the best coach in the NBA. Has commanded respect by others.— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) July 21, 2015
With only one year as a full-time assistant and a Summer League head coaching gig under her belt, Hammon doesn't have as much experience as other popular coaching candidates. She will likely need to pay her dues for a little longer in the league.
However, Hammon's head coaching qualifications shouldn't be dismissed. There are several men who've been hired as NBA head coaches with less experience. Sure, Steve Kerr, Mark Jackson, Jason Kidd and Derek Fisher were long-time NBA players, but an NBA head coaching gig is a different ballgame and they were all hired with zero prior coaching experience.
Hammon is learning from the best in Popovich, and it showed this summer. Carpenter noted how Hammon consistently made the correct adjustments over the course of the past few weeks. As CBS Sports' Sam Vecenie noted, the Summer Spurs looked a lot like the NBA Spurs, with many of the same offensive sets being executed with high efficiency.
Hammon likely won't be an NBA head coach in the next year. She may not be an NBA head coach in the next few years. But teams should at least start considering her for a head coaching gig based on her body of work both as a Spurs assistant and as the Summer League head coach.
Someday in the near future, a team will take the leap and make her the first woman to become an NBA head coach
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