As you have probably been made aware of by now, San Antonio Spurs Assistant Coach Becky Hammon has been in the headlines of basketball news lately for all the wrong reasons. After it was announced that the Portland Trailblazers would be hiring former Detroit Piston player and Los Angeles Clipper Assistant Coach Chauncey Billups, a bit of a media firestorm erupted shortly after.
Besides the fact that Billups was being investigated for sexual assault allegations from decades ago, how his hiring was announced to the public angered many fans around the league. In a piece originally released by Bleacher Report, sources claimed that when the Trailblazers conducted a background check on Hammon, they received less-than-positive intel from the Spurs on her coaching ability.
It should go without saying that releasing such information to the public (let alone sharing that info to a large sports media outlet) is incredibly distasteful by the Trailblazers organization. We promptly felt that it was necessary to share that we thought this supposed intel was incredibly difficult to believe.
Even now, the entire debacle seems to have entirely backfired on the Trailblazers front office and ownership, rightfully so.
About a week ago, ESPN's Doris Burke made an appearance on Chris Haynes' Posted Up Podcast, where she came on to discuss the ongoing playoffs, how she rose in the business of sports reporting, and to debate about the best players in the league. She also came on to discuss the hiring of Billups and the drama surrounding Coach Hammon.
Beginning around the eleven-minute mark in the podcast, Burke opens up about her thoughts on the entire situation surrounding both Billups and Hammon. Specifically, she first brings up a component of the actual interview process that she thought to be disconcerting.
"Not one time have I ever heard when somebody-- and I won't mention a specific name because I can't even bring one instance to bear here-- where I've heard X-assistant coach didn't get the job where the likability and the work ethic was in play for an assistant coach. Not one time have I ever heard that."
Being that Burke obviously has plenty of experience herself as a woman in the business of sports, she understandably felt the need to question why Hammon's likability and work ethic was brought up in the interview process when her male counterparts are generally not questioned in those same ways.
Burke feels that such a double standard in the industry is unwarranted, unnecessary, and wrong. If I am an NBA executive or Adam Silver, I would be highly concerned about the events that took place in Portland much like Burke is. For a league that labels itself as being progressive as often as it does, such a turn of events is wholeheartedly disappointing for everyone involved, including for fans (and particularly female fans).
Both Burke and Haynes should be commended for actively looking to continue this conversation and expect better from the NBA. As Spurs fans, we can only hope that Coach Hammon gets the Head Coaching job that she deserves sooner rather than later, and that perhaps it could be with the Spurs.