Becky Hammon was added to the San Antonio Spurs coaching staff as an assistant over the off-season, making her the first full-time, paid female assistant on a coaching staff of any of the four major professional sports.
It did not take long for her hard work in the world of basketball to be acknowledged as, three months in, she has been named espnW’s Woman of the Year and has been included in espnW’s Impact 25, a list that looks at women who have had a significant impact in the world of sports in this past year.
While Becky Hammon is actually the second female to have an assistant role on an NBA team, Lisa Boyer did that in 2001-2002 for the Cleveland Cavaliers, she is the first full-time female in this position.
Doris Burke of ESPN sat down with Hammon to talk about her role with the Spurs, coaching San Antonio’s future Hall-of-Famers, and the impact on woman in sports. We have selected a few of the questions Becky Hammon answered from the interview and posted them below.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
It depends. Scouting is divided up, so I have my teams that I scout. When you have a scout coming up, you’re immersed in film, studying numbers and video, trying to get your scout tape and the scouting report. Pop likes to take a lot of input from everybody. We have our little meetings, and everybody gives their opinions. Maybe one person knows more about this team than the other one, so we just kind of dialogue. Those meetings and the video sessions without the players, those are the funnest ones.
How much does it help that you were a fixture in San Antonio because of your WNBA history?
I don’t want the WNBA to get pushed aside here in this story. Because without the WNBA, Pop doesn’t get to observe me with my teammates. He doesn’t get to observe me in the community. He doesn’t get to observe me in those kind of settings.
When you’re coaching guys such as Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, these are guys who are all probably going to be Hall of Famers, how do you know they’re accepting your coaching?
Obviously, there has to be some trust built up. I’m sure they’ve watched me and observed me. But they had to get to know me. And that was a process, to build a relationship. Some of coaching is X’s and O’s, but a lot of it is just people management and trusting, buying into what that person is telling you about how they’re going to help you win games.
What is it about the NBA that has fostered this atmosphere of being open to women in roles that maybe other professional leagues haven’t quite gotten to?
Obviously, they have a progressive mind, starting with David Stern and the WNBA. The NBA really put its foot forward, footed the bill for the WNBA and put its money where its mouth was. I’m not sure why it hasn’t happened in some other sport or at some other time. I’m not even sure in basketball why it hasn’t happened. Because I know there’s plenty of great basketball minds, and no one has pulled the trigger. R.C. [Buford, San Antonio’s general manager] and Pop pulled the trigger. I think it’s a nice step forward.
Congratulations to not only Becky Hammon, but all the women who were recognized by espnW including the first female president of the NBA players’ association, Michele Roberts, Little League pitcher Mo’ne Davis, WNBA start Brittney Griner, and 17-time Grand Slam Winner Serena Williams.