Now that San Antonio Spurs assistant Ime Udoka has departed for Philly, Becky Hammon has an improved chance at making history.
It was reported that longtime assistant coach and former San Antonio Spurs player Ime Udoka will depart from the Alamo City for a new gig as Sixers’ coach Brett Brown’s lead assistant, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Udoka spent seven years working closely under the NBA’s all-time winningest coach in Gregg Popovich, studying his tactics and developing strategies for the rotating cast of players that he helped develop.
Popovich signed a three-year extension at the beginning of the offseason, solidifying himself within the organization for at least a few years longer. If Pop had opted to retire instead of continuing on, there’s a decent chance that Udoka would’ve been the one to take on the mantle.
Now that Udoka is no longer ahead of her on the team’s totem pole, assistant coach and WNBA legend Becky Hammon will have a significantly stronger chance at taking the reins once Pop calls it quits. At just 42 years old, Hammon has firmly coagulated herself as a prime candidate to lead this franchise into the future because of her immense impact on the team’s young core and championship-caliber expertise.
There are two main roadblocks concerning Hammon’s head coaching chances in San Antonio. The first goes by the name of Ettore Messina, Popovich’s longtime right-hand man who generally assumes head coaching responsibilities when Pop is unable to step in. He led the team when Popovich’s wife passed away in the opening round of last year’s playoffs and steps in when Pop is ejected.
Messina is a distinguished coach with a massively high IQ, but his potential may be tapped out at assistant coach. The team doesn’t respond well when he takes over and his rotations could be described as questionable. I’m sure he’d do a fine job given the opportunity, but it wouldn’t be nearly as exciting as implementing the first female head coach in NBA history with Hammon.
Because of her player development skills, personability and demeanor, Hammon has the potential to become a Coach of the Year candidate when it’s all said and done.
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The second roadblock concerning Hammon’s head coaching chances is the fact that she’s a woman. It’s not to be denied that women face a plethora of issues in the workplace that are an afterthought for their male counterparts, especially in a professional sport that’s so heavily dominated by men. She’s had interviews for head coaching positions elsewhere, but nothing has ever come to fruition.
Between workplace issues, locker room banter and the general male agenda, there are some non-basketball factors that could be cause for concern. With that said, this is the perfect organization to implement the first female head coach for the Spurs’ ingenuity and open-mindedness at a franchise could open the gateway for a league where men and women are look at and employed as equals.
Maybe she doesn’t have the level of experience that other head coaches bring to the table, but it’s evident that she has an excellent grasp on the youth of this team and the trends of the modern league. Her mind is as sharp as her wit, and Hammon’s strategic work is a thing of beauty.
San Antonio walks to the beat of its own drum and operates without leaning too heavily on the ideas spreading throughout the rest of the league. It would be totally unsurprising to see Hammon lead the way for the next exciting generation of Spurs basketball.