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Becky Hammon on leaving San Antonio Spurs for Las Vegas Aces: ‘My heart was saying it was time to go’

Becky Hammon — the former New York Liberty All-Star and trailblazing coach — knew what she was doing when she decided to work as an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs.

She also knew what she was doing when she decided to leave San Antonio and Gregg Popovich to become reportedly the highest paid head coach in the WNBA with the Las Vegas Aces.

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“My heart was saying it was time to go,” Hammon said in an interview with the Associated Press published Tuesday. “This is where I am supposed to be right now. There were a lot of sleepless nights getting to this conclusion.”

“Las Vegas sees me as a head coach now,” she said. “The WNBA has called every year with job openings. ... I’ve always said ‘thank you I’m very flattered,’ but stayed on this path. This was first time where I was like I’ll listen.”

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Let’s get one thing straight: it’s not downgrading if someone chooses to leave employment with the NBA for the WNBA. Anything or anyone that suggests otherwise has more to learn about both leagues.

And Hammon said as much: “I think it’s an ignorant statement. To think I’ve outgrown the WNBA in a coaching capacity is ridiculous. I’d rather be a coach in the WNBA and have my own organization and be running a team.”

In fact, her hiring by the Aces was part of an increase in women coaches in the WNBA unseen since the early years of the league’s inception, per Bleacher Report’s Jackie Powell — depending on how the vacancy in Phoenix shakes out, the league could be looking at a 100% increase in women coaches for the first time since 1998.

Hammon makes a heckuva head coach no matter the team, location or league. Just because the NBA’s been around 50 more years than the W does not mean Hammon or the women’s league are any less worthy.

“It’s a great opportunity to have a head coaching job at that level,” Popovich told the AP. “To prove herself. She’s already proven herself to me, but that doesn’t matter in the long run. She’s interviewed for a few jobs in the NBA, and she’s more than qualified and would have done a great job.”

As far as women breaking through the NBA’s glass ceiling? Well, Popovich already said Hammon would have done it. But Hammon isn’t the only leading candidate. Her fellow Liberty legend and Hall of Famer, Teresa Weatherspoon, was in conversations last year to replace New Orleans Pelicans’ head coach Stan Van Gundy.

“Women are getting hired in all sorts of positions now,” Hammon said. “Not just the NBA, but across professional sports leagues. For anyone to say the needle hasn’t moved is wrong. The process [interviewing] in Portland moved the needle. It was a great process for me.”

It’s 2022 and we’re rooting for women at every level.


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