Las Vegas Aces owner Mark Davis didn’t hire Becky Hammon as the new head coach of the WNBA franchise for her sentiment, fame, or PR know-how. He hired Hammon for the head coach ready now that she is.
The WNBA win became the NBA’s missed opportunity in December as Hammon was named Bill Laimbeer’s successor, becoming the league’s highest-paid head coach.
Hammon became the first full-time assistant in NBA history with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014, and cracked without breaking another glass ceiling in December 2020 when she became the first female interim head coach. in league history by replacing Gregg Popovich. following his expulsion against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Last offseason, she led a pool of experienced candidates linked to the seven head coach vacancies at the time, with subsequent questions as to why Hammon et co. did not receive offers to replace ignorant questions about a coach’s credentials.
Hammon was the longest-serving member of Popovich’s staff and had been touted as a possible successor. Davis, the Aces and the WNBA threw themselves on the experience the NBA had left out.
“It’s a step forward,” Hammon said. “Being the head coach of the Las Vegas Aces is a step forward and a step in the right direction for myself, for women’s basketball, and I think I cannot stress the importance of this. opportunity that I have.I think it’s more beneficial for growth.
“There’s something about being a head coach. I’ve been in a lot of (NBA) head coaching interviews, and two things people always said: ‘You only went to San Antonio, and you’ve never been a head coach. ‘ I can tell you that right now (owner) Mark Davis met me, (team president) Nikki (Fargas) met me and said, ‘He’s a head coach right now.'”
Hammon, six-time WNBA All-Star in 16 years with the New York Liberty and San Antonio Silver Stars, will stay with the Spurs for the remainder of the season before taking over to Las Vegas full-time.
The 44-year-old has been Spurs’ head coach in the NBA Summer League three times, becoming the first female head coach to win a title in 2015.
The interest was there before last year: The Indiana Pacers interviewed Hammon in 2020 before hiring the one-time Nate Bjorkgren, and in 2017 she was interviewed by the Milwaukee Bucks as part of their search for a new post of general manager.
New Orleans Pelicans assistant Teresa Weatherspoon, Duke Blue Devils’ women’s head coach Kara Lawson and South Carolina, and U.S. team’s women’s head coach Dawn Staley were also linked with at least one of the head coaching positions alongside Hammon this summer. The wait for a first female conductor in the NBA continues, but for how long?
“You know, in some ways, like, I feel like I was really close, I was very close (to an NBA head coaching position),” Hammon said. “It wasn’t really about the NBA or the WNBA, it was about me personally ready to have a team and wanting to have a team and wanting to sit in that chair and then have the opportunity to do that and, you know, NBA jobs are hard to come by.
“In some ways I feel like the NBA maybe close (to hiring a head coach), in other ways I feel like they are a long way from hiring . I don’t know when that might happen. What I do know is the Aces have 100 percent of my focus and my energies and I’m super proud to be their head coach and leading this girl group. . “
“This is the best possible scenario for the Las Vegas Aces. Being a head coach takes a huge amount of energy. In Becky, the team now has someone who can play that role for the long haul, which is excellent for both. the players and the franchise. ” – Bill Laimbeer pic.twitter.com/T6sGwt4gMY
– Ace of Las Vegas (@LVAces) December 31, 2021
A courageous decision to walk away from the NBA was also evident in the midst of an increasingly competitive fight for the responsibility of leading a team.
“It was the best place for me and my family, an opportunity for me to sit in the big chair and be the head coach of a big professional sports league,” added Hammon.
“I feel like I’m ready to have my own team, and it’s the organization that made it very, very obvious that they wanted me really, really badly. It’s always good to be wanted. quickly became clear that Las Vegas was the place for me. “
Hammon is currently one of eight active assistants in the league, none of whom have been hired to make history.