NBA gets its first female
The San Antonio Spurs of the NBA have hired Becky Hammon as an assistant coach. What's special is that she will be the first full-time, paid female assistant on an NBA coaching staff.
When Hammon retires from her 16-year women's pro basketball career in the WNBA, she will immediately move to the staff of the defending NBA champions. With the Spurs, she will work with head coach Gregg Popovich on scouting, game-planning and the day-to-day grind of practice.
"I'm up for challenges," Hammon said Tuesday. "I'm up for being outside the box, making tough decisions and challenges. ... And I'm a little bit of an adrenaline junkie. Throw those all in there and this was the perfect challenge and opportunity."
That makes her fit right in with the Spurs, an organization with a reputation for bold decisions. Popovich and general manager R.C. Buford have long been at the forefront of the league's international influx. Earlier this summer, they hired European men's coaching standout Ettore Messina as an assistant.
During the 2001-02 season, Cleveland Cavaliers coach John Lucas brought Lisa Boyer into the team's practices and some games. Boyer, now an assistant at South Carolina, was not paid by the Cavaliers and did not travel with the team, but did work with the players and coaches that season.
Last season, Hammon attended Spurs practices, film sessions and sat behind the bench at home game after suffering a torn ACL that kept her from playing.
"As far as women coaching men, it's really silly. People ask me all the time, will there ever be a woman player in the NBA?" Hammon said. "To be honest, no. There are differences. The guys are too big, too strong and that's just the way it is.
"But when it comes to things of the mind, things like coaching, game-planning, coming up with offensive and defensive schemes, there's no reason why a woman couldn't be in the mix and shouldn't be in the mix."
Critical thinking challenge: Why has it taken so long for this to happen?