San Antonio Spurs Breaking Barriers Again, Make Becky Hammon First Full-Time Female Assistant Coach in NBA

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By James Patrick Quizon | August 6, 2014 10:06 AM EST

The San Antonio Spurs announced on Wednesday (AEDT) that they have named Becky Hammon as an assistant coach starting the 2014-2015 NBA season-- a move that will make the San Antonio Stars player the first-ever, full-time paid female assistant coach in the history of the league.

REUTERS
Russia's Becky Hammon smiles toward her bench during the women's preliminary round Group B basketball match against Brazil at the Basketball Arena during the London 2012 Olympic Games in this file photo taken July 30, 2012. A glass ceiling in major professional sports was cracked on August 5, 2014 when the National Basketball Association champion San Antonio Spurs named long time WNBA star Becky Hammon as the first full-time female assistant coach in NBA history.

The 37-year-old Hammon is actually the second woman to serve as a member of an NBA coaching staff. In 2001-2002, Lisa Boyer worked for the Cleveland Cavaliers but only on part-time basis and was not paid by the team.

With a historical backdrop with her hiring, Hammon knows about the pressure that comes with the job.

“It’s a tremendous challenge, it comes with tremendous responsibility. This is a great challenge for me and I want to grow from my experiences. This is big. I hope little girls can say, ‘hey look, people can do what they put their minds to,” admitted Hammon during the Spurs’ press conference.

Hammon also shared that in one of her conversations with head coach Greg Popovich, the veteran Spurs mentor told her that they are hiring her because she’s “a good fit” and not because she “happened to be a woman.”

“Having observed her working with our team this past season, I’m confident her basketball I.Q., work ethic and interpersonal skills will be a great benefit to the Spurs,” said Popovich in an official statement also on Wednesday.

Hammon played for two teams in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), the New York Liberty (1999 to 2006) and Stars (2007 to 2014). She is set to retire from her 16-year WNBA career at the end of the season.

She made the All-Star team six times (2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011) in her WNBA career and was part of the “15 best players in league history” list in 2011.

She also had various international stints playing for Trentino Roverto Basket (2001 to 2002), Rivas Ecopolis (2006 to 2007), CSKA Moscow (2007 to 2009), Ros Casares Valencia (2009 to 2010), Orenburg (2010 to 2011) and Spartak (2011 to 2012).

Hammon also represented the Russian women’s basketball national team in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Like her basketball moves, the spitfire point guard will look to add feistiness and some to this Spurs’ ballclub.

“I’m up for challenges, I’m up for being outside the box,” declared Hammon.

The Spurs are known for innovation and trying out new things in the league like reinventing their offence and tapping international talent. In response, the league has copied the Spurs’ winning formula and even stole some of their assistant coaches.

After the surprise hiring of Becky Hammon, perhaps the NBA franchises across the league will also look to add more female talent to add to its ranks.

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(Photo: REUTERS / Mike Segar)
Russia's Becky Hammon smiles toward her bench during the women's preliminary round Group B basketball match against Brazil at the Basketball Arena during the London 2012 Olympic Games in this file photo taken July 30, 2012. A glass ceiling in major professional sports was cracked on August 5, 2014 when the National Basketball Association champion San Antonio Spurs named long time WNBA star Becky Hammon as the first full-time female assistant coach in NBA history.
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