What other players might have seen as injury rehab, Becky Hammon viewed as an "internship."
While working to come back from a torn ACL last year, the six-time WNBA All-Star was just looking to stay around the game. And since her San Antonio Stars team shared the same building as the NBA’s Spurs, maybe she could pick up a thing or two by hanging around them – even after 15 years of playing professionally.
Hammon attended a few meetings, worked out with players and helped with film sessions as the Spurs went on to win their fifth NBA championship.
On Tuesday, it was the Spurs who picked up Hammon, hiring her as an assistant coach and making her the first woman to be paid to do the job in the NBA.
“It’s a tremendous challenge,” Hammon said. “And it comes with a tremendous responsibility.”
Hammon is in her final season with the Stars and will assume her coaching duties at the conclusion of the season. With Hammon already having announced her impending retirement in late July, the Spurs began talks to bring her aboard full time earlier this summer.
“The opportunity happened to coincide,” Hammon said. “Communication started to happen once I already decided.”
Contract terms were not disclosed.
Hammon is not the first female assistant coach in the NBA. Lisa Boyer, now associate head women's basketball coach at South Carolina, was a part-time, volunteer assistant on coach John Lucas' staff with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2001-02.
Hammon said she’ll be responsible for helping out with scouting opponents, breaking down film and building game plans.
“I very much look forward to the addition of Becky Hammon to our staff,” Spurs coach Gregg 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.”
In talking about her time with the Spurs last season, Hammon discussed multiple instances in which Popovich looked to her for insight and opinion as he did with every other coach on staff. Hammon also alluded to a long-standing friendship with Spurs point guard Tony Parker.
As a player, Hammon ranks as the Stars' all-time leader in assists (1,112) and three-pointers (493), amassing 5,809 points to date (seventh most in WNBA history) in stints with the Stars and New York Liberty.
"On behalf of the WNBA, I want to congratulate Becky on today's announcement," WNBA President Laurel J. Richie said. "Voted one of the WNBA's Top 15 Greatest Players, Becky is a true leader both on and off the court. Her great knowledge of and passion for the game will be an asset to the San Antonio Spurs when she assumes her role as an assistant coach following her retirement from the WNBA."
Hammon will play her final regular season game August 17 against the Chicago Sky at Allstate Arena.
As for any pressure with her next career, Hammon is only worried about winning, and anything she can do to help that happen.
“They base themselves on excellence and demand excellence,” Hammon said. “That starts with leadership.”Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun