San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon, left, chats with Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, right, on the pitch during a timeout in the second half of a basketball game. the NBA against the Los Angeles Lakers in San Antonio.
Darren Abate | PA
Becky Hammon has moved the needle, but the National Basketball Association assistant coach is now focused on the next steps in her career, which at the same time could see her make history again.
Weeks after Hammon was nominated as a finalist for a head coach position with the Portland Trail Blazers, which would have made her the NBA’s first female head coach, Hammon spoke to CNBC on Saturday to express his thoughts.
Hammon said she wasn’t bitter that she didn’t get the job and gained a better understanding of the hiring process. Hammon added that she is ready for the opportunity once the right team is ready.
“I’m not crazy,” Hammon said. “It’s the business, and it’s a very competitive business. But, at the end of the day, throw it all out the window – if you want to hire me, you’ll find a reason to hire me. you don’t. If you don’t want to hire me, you’ll find that reason too. And that’s just it.
Hammon, 44, remains assistant coach of the San Antonio Spurs. She explained why she’s ready for one of the 30 NBA head coaching positions and cited her professional growth under coach Gregg Popovich as the reason.
Victim of damage limitation?
Going into coaching talks with the Blazers, Hammon did not claim she was the favorite for the job.
Chauncey Billups was the Blazers’ first choice – it was clear in NBA circles. The former NBA goalie has a relationship with team principal Neil Olshey. Therefore, Jody Allen, sister of late Blazers owner and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, endorsed Olshey’s choice. The Blazers defended the hiring of Billups during his coaching presentation while publicly praising Hammon.
“We absolutely admire Becky,” Olshey said on June 29. “She did a great job. Obviously, it is not easy to achieve the level of ownership of a maintenance process.”
Olshey said going this far is “an endorsement of how far she’s come and how close she is to being a head coach.” Olshey then said Billups ticked all the boxes, including “gravitas leadership skills.”
Discussing the process, Hammon said, “I knew I was second, I knew who they wanted. And that’s fine with me, because every race I’ve done my whole life I’ve been behind, and I ‘I’m okay with that. And that’s how it is, but at the same time, I don’t ignore what I’m up against.
Assistant coach Becky Hammond warms up with players before the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on November 17, 2017 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.
Hammon said she believes the Blazers are “genuine” in their search for coaches. But the team suffered a public backlash once the story of Billups’ rape allegations in 1997 surfaced, and suggestions emerged that the team was only interviewing Hammon as a form of damage control. Rumors have also surfaced that Hammon received less than glowing comments from Spurs during the Portland process.
When asked if she felt the rumors had an impact on the talks in Portland, Hammon said she had not read the tabloids and had not commented further on the matter.
She added: “I take every experience, and I try to learn from it, learn from it and improve myself next time around. ‘hired or not, it’s a bit out of my control. I’m just trying to do my best in the moment I’m given. “
The Blazers process is over, however, and Hammon has said she is focused on “the next step” in her career. “I know how much San Antonio liked me, and I agree with that,” she added.
Hammon is now a teacher
The spotlight remains on Hammon. The social media crowd wants to see her make history as a head coach. And each of his actions will make the headlines. She has no control over attention, which both helps and hurts, but she would prefer it for the right reason: her coaching skills.
“I don’t want to be in the news because I’m the first woman,” Hammon said. “At the end of the day, I want to make the news because I’m hired for my qualifications. That was Gregg Popovich’s original intention when he hired me in 2014 – namely:” She added something to the group. She adds something to our team. I admire her wit and the way she watches the game. ‘”
This is where Hammon reflects on his way.
She spent 16 seasons in the WNBA, which started in New York City with the Liberty. Hammon made six All-Star appearances throughout his career and retired to San Antonio in 2014.
San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon chats with her team during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers on December 30, 2020 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.
Logan Riely | National Basketball Association | Getty Images
“I was a former player trying to figure out what the next step was,” said Hammon. “And although I was a student of the game…” she paused before digging into her credentials.
Hammon then mentioned Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili – three NBA legends “who know 20 times more than I do in this league and [Spurs] system. So when you sit there and talk to them about defensive blankets, you better be sure you know what you’re talking about, and I’m just real. “
She then stressed that she deserved Popovich’s trust.
The legendary head coach gives his assistant coaches scouting duties – creating game plans and strategies that he then coaches. If Popovich doesn’t like what’s on offer, it’s back to the movie theater. That’s how new Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka learned. Milwaukee Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer and Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams also learned under Popovich.
“It prepares us in a way that maybe some young coaches or people who haven’t gone through the wringer,” are unprepared, Hammon said. “He gives his assistant coaches so much freedom and influence that he prepares us more than people can understand. He empowers and empowers you in certain situations that I don’t think other coaches who have his serious can do. He is a teacher of teachers, and he produces teachers.
When asked what kind of coach she is today, after seven seasons under Popovich, Hammon replied, “I grew up under him. With him I learned a ton of X’s and O’s. and different leadership skills. But there are things that make it really hard to quantify the growth that I’ve had because there is so much of it. “
But Hammon is not happy
There are still jobs available in Washington and New Orleans. But the point is, these aren’t the most stable NBA organizations.
Pelicans suffer from team culture issues. And rival NBA executives suggest the Wizards’ sporting philosophy and strategy is more hockey-focused than basketball-driven under owner Ted Leonsis.
While Hammon is up for the challenge, it’s unclear if she would be a perfect fit for these teams.
“I have to be the right coach – not a man or a woman – the right coach, for the right team, in the right city, at the right time,” said Hammon.
And when she lands a top coaching job in the NBA, Hammon said, she welcomes everything that comes with it.
“I am ready to be scrutinized,” Hammon said. “Whether I’m doing everything wrong or right, that’s what it is. My job is to introduce myself to the players and be the leader and the person who believes in them the most.”
“When the world gives them a bunch of bullshit and throws stuff in their ears, I’m the voice of honesty to say, ‘Hey, this is what it looks like – this is how it should be. be, and if you’re down, I’m here to make it work, ”she said. “I don’t know how to tell you otherwise. The truth always works.”
“I’m happy with what’s going on – the needle is moving,” Hammon said. “Am I happy? No. And contentment has never brought anything great. There are different prices to pay to get to where you want to go. And I am at this point.”