Could Rapid City Native Becky Hammon Be The NBA’s First Female Coach? One Legendary Coach Thinks So.
When Becky Hammon was going to high school at Rapid City Stevens, she dreamed of making basketball her life’s work. She was player of the year in South Dakota as a senior, starred at Colorado State University where she was an All-American and Colorado Sportswoman of the year. She’s been in the WNBA since 1999 and has even played in two Olympics. But at 37, and following another injury, it appears Hammon is starting to eye her post-playing days.
That’s where San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich comes in. Hammon has been playing with the San Antonio Silver Stars for the past seven years and has formed friendships with Popovich and several of the players. Such tight friendships that Popovich has had Hammon sit in on several Spurs practices and coach’s meetings.
Hammon has sat behind the bench at home games and sat through film sessions with the team. Popovich calls her a ‘lifer’ in the sport and to hear her talk, he’s probably right. She talks about the standard that Popovich holds the team to on a daily basis whether they’re up by 20 or down by a point and calls it a beautiful thing to watch.
Popovich doesn’t think there should be limitations put on women in coaching, though only a few have even ascended to assistant coaching jobs at the college level on men’s teams though about a third of women’s teams are coached by men.
Hammon is back for what may be a final run in the WNBA with the season starting this month, but she’s open to breaking down some of the barriers that exist for women coaching men’s basketball saying if you know and understand basketball, you know and understand basketball (regardless of gender).
Who knows. Maybe when the San Antonio Spurs are in the play-offs yet again two, three years down the road, a Rapid City, South Dakota native may be sitting a couple chairs down from a man sure to be an NBA Hall of Famer, as the first woman coach in the NBA.