San Antonio Spurs: Becky Hammon promoted to front-of-bench assistant

SAN ANTONIO,TX - OCTOBER 8: Filling in for head coach Gregg Popovich, Becky Hammon talks to Manu Ginobili
SAN ANTONIO,TX - OCTOBER 8: Filling in for head coach Gregg Popovich, Becky Hammon talks to Manu Ginobili /

San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammon’s quest to become the first female NBA head coach just took an important step forward.

The San Antonio Spurs announced on Wednesday that Becky Hammon was promoted to the front row of assistant coaches for the team. Hammon will fill in for James Borrego, who left to become the head coach of the Charlotte Hornets on May 10.

With nine head coaching vacancies after this past season, Hammon received some attention as a potential hire, most notably an interview with the Milwaukee Bucks before the team decided to hire former Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer.

There were questions about whether Hammon deserved to receive consideration for a head coaching job, considering she had never sat in the front row for an NBA team. Pau Gasol, amongst others, rushed out to Hammon’s support. 

After being bumped to the front row, it appears Hammon is on her way to becoming the first female head coach of any of the four major sports.

Hammon’s rich basketball background makes her an intriguing basketball mind and assistant coach. Apart from her success in the United States during her 16 seasons in the WNBA, Hammon brings international experience as well, having played for the Russian Women’s National Basketball team at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics.

Hammon joined the Spurs’ coaching group back in 2014, and has received praise for her work since, including leading the Spurs to a Summer League title as the head coach back in 2015.

One of her biggest supporters is Gregg Popovich, who has lauded Hammon for her strong work ethic from the moment she was hired to join the Silver and Black’s staff.

Popovich thinks Hammon is ready to take the reins of an NBA team, but knows it’ll have to be a team that’s not afraid to do things differently.

“It’s going to take somebody who has some guts, some imagination, and is not driven by old standards and old forms.” Popovich said. “If somebody is smart, it’s actually a pretty good marketing deal — but it’s not about that. It’s got to be that she’s competent, that she’s ready.”

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With rumors that Gregg Popovich isn’t expected to coach past the 2020 season and could even retire before then, Hammon’s promotion comes at a good time.

Should the Spurs decide Popovich’s successor should be an in-house hire, Hammon and Ettore Messina, who is the Spurs’ top assistant coach and filled in during Popovich’s absence this postseason, will most likely get the first look.