ecky Hammon, decorated WNBA superstar, has been named an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs. Doesn’t seem too unheard of, right? Surely there must be other female coaches in the NBA by now…right? Well, she’s actually the first woman EVER hired to a full-time, salaried coaching position in the NBA. In the four major men’s sports leagues (NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL), there are no other full-time female coaches. Zero. It’s about time, and the Spurs’ head coach, Gregg Popovich, emphasized that he selected her not because she’s a woman, but because she has exceptional basketball IQ.
As Hammon put it in the press conference, “…I gotta be perfectly honest, it’s never been about the woman thing, it’s been about, ‘Hey she’s got a great basketball mind and we think she’d be a great addition to our program.’ I think that’s just the driving force.”
Hammon recognizes that this is a ground-breaking step, but she also gives a shout out to women in leadership positions in more and more fields:
“There’s women that have trail-blazed much bigger paths and really trail-blazed the path for things like this to happen…There’s a lot more important things going on, in the bigger things, CEOs of companies. Women are really in every area. They’re in the surgery rooms. They’re doctors. They’re lawyers. They’re COOs…So even me sitting here today to be able to have the playing experience that I had as a professional basketball player, women went before me to pave that trail. So I’m really just reaping benefits of all their hard work and labor.”
When Hammon was seven or eight years old, already ballin’, she asked her Dad if he thought she could ever play in the NBA, because the WNBA didn’t even exist at that point. Now she can look back on an impressive WNBA career spanning 16 years. Many of the media stories on her selection as assistant coach briefly pass over her stellar career in both college and the WNBA. Filling up the record books at Colorado State University, receiving Colorado Sportswoman of the Year and Frances Pomeroy Naismith Awards, twice earning All-WNBA 1st and 2nd team honors, becoming a six-time WNBA All-star, securing her name in the WNBA record books, and being named one of the 15 best players in history in 2011, Hammon deserves more recognition for her phenomenal basketball career. Hammon will take that wealth of experience and accomplishments with her as she explores the new terrain of being an assistant coach in the NBA.