Funny how just being true to who you are and simply striving to do what you feel is right always seems to have way of shaking things up.
Just two months after turning the basketball universe on its collective ears and sending LeBron James packing by easily dismantling the two-time defending champion Miami Heat, the robotic and rudimentary San Antonio Spurs again made history on Tuesday by announcing the team has hired retiring WNBA star Becky Hammon as an assistant coach.
The 37-year-old Hammon is thus set to become the first paid female assistant in NBA history when she officially joins the organization later this year. Lisa Boyer was an assistant with the Cleveland Cavaliers but was not paid by Cleveland and only attended home games.
“I very much look forward to the addition of Becky Hammon to our staff,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “Having observed her working with our team this past season, I’m confident her basketball IQ, work ethic and interpersonal skills will be a great benefit to the Spurs.”
In all, the six-time All-Star and the league’s No. 7 all-time scorer played 16 WNBA seasons, the last five with the San Antonio Stars. The team is owned by the same management team as the five-time champion Spurs and to say that the organization always seems to find a way of taking care of their own would be akin to saying Popovich and Hall of Fame bound forward Tim Duncan have won a few games together since becoming a force of one.
Already this summer, the Spurs have dutifully signed Popovich and All-Star guard Tony Parker to extensions, while Duncan has agreed to come back for at least one more season in hopes of joining Michael Jordan as the most championship-decorated stars of their era.
As for Hammon, Tuesday’s announcement was almost as predictable as it was historic. After hearing through the grapevine that she wanted to become a coach, Popovich began inviting her to sit in on the team’s practices in 2013, where she instantly won the respect and affinity of players and other coaches alike.
“She’s been perfect,” added Popovich, comparing her to Steve Kerr, Avery Johnson and Mike Budenholzer, all of whom either played for or coached under Popovich and have since gone on to be NBA coaches. “She knows when to talk, and she knows when to shut up. That’s as simple as you can put it, and a lot of people don’t figure that out. She knows how to do it, and our players really respond to her.”
And now history stands to embrace them all.