When it comes to setting a high standard, no NBA team does it better than the San Antonio Spurs. Considered to be the best organization with the best team in basketball, the Spurs have always achieved things other franchises mostly dream about. It should therefore come as no surprise that the defending champs decided that Becky Hammon would fit in well with their overall mission.
A 16-year WNBA veteran with a wealth of both worldly intelligence and high basketball IQ, Hammon figures to transition quickly into coach Gregg Popovich’s squad without batting an eyelash.
Her resume speaks for itself. She’s fourth on the WNBA’s all-time list for assists and has been named one of the league’s top 15 all-time players. But it’s not Hammon’s resume that led the Spurs to hire her as a mentor for their championship squad; rather, it’s about her approach.
Always thirsting for more knowledge about the game she loves, Hammon spent hours cultivating relationships with Tony Parker and Tim Duncan while recuperating from an ACL tear in 2013. She sat in on film sessions, attended practices and sat behind the Spurs bench on a regular basis.
At that point, it wasn’t about setting the stage for a possible assistant coaching job. Hammon just wanted to further enrich her knowledge base, a trait that has followed her throughout a storied professional playing career.
None of it was lost on Popovich, the coach who has established a culture of unflappable cohesion in his tenure with the Spurs. When it comes to execution both on and off the court, the Spurs do it better and more professionally than anybody else. Always a model of consistency, the Spurs are a case study in the combination of hard work, dedication and intelligence. Hammon fits that model to a tee.
While the rest of the NBA may have raised a collective eyebrow at the Spurs daring to hire a woman to help oversee a group of champions with million-dollar contracts in hand, it makes perfect sense in the larger picture.
Put simply, Hammon is an ideal fit for the Spurs; an example of paying dues and doing things the right way both on and off the court. Forgetting for a moment all the titles and accolades the Spurs have racked up over the years, Popovich’s team has always been about intelligence and professionalism first and foremost. They get both in Hammon.
One cannot ignore the obvious societal implications of the Spurs taking a chance on the first woman to be hired for a full-time paid coaching gig in the NBA. If nothing else, it advances the cause for women in the coaching ranks of a sport dominated by men.
With that said, none of it mattered to the Spurs. At the end of the day, Hammon was viewed in the same way as any other potential assistant coach: As a valuable asset to the organization. The standards will be high, and the expectations for excellence will be there from day one for Hammon.
Don’t expect it to faze the 37-year-old South Dakotan, however. After all, she’s the embodiment of what the Spurs preach.