Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

A Woman Will Coach In The NBA

Spurs Hire WNBA Star Hammon

By Mitch Chortkoff

Sports Editor

The San Antonio Spurs are not only NBA champions they have the reputation of frequently being a few steps ahead of opponents in a variety of ways.

I admire the Spurs for adding someone to their roster every season, usually a relatively unknown player from Europe or a U.S. collegian who wasn't an All-American. Frequently these players become key additions to support Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Mano Ginobli.

So it didn't surprise me when last week the Spurs became the first team in NBA history to hire a full-time woman on its coaching staff.

In 2001 the Cleveland Cavaliers brought in Lisa Boyer, but she was a part-time coach who didn't travel with the team and wasn't paid.

Becky Hammon will be one of the Spurs' assistant coaches full time and will be paid.

"People ask me if there'll ever be a woman player in the NBA," said Hammon. "I say probably not because of the difference in size and strength.

"But when it comes to game-planning, offensive and defensive schemes, things of the mind, that's different."

Spurs' head coach Gregg Popovich, who's about to enter his 19th season, agrees.

'I'm not interested in whether it's a man or a woman. I'm interested in the person's basketball IQ and communication skills," he said.

Hammon, a point guard who played for the San Antonio WNBA team, is ending a 16-year career in the league and has been chosen as one of the WNBAs top 15 all-time best players.

Spurs' guard Danny Green said he was impressed with Hammon's basketball knowledge when she helped the team last season after being injured in a WNBA game and couldn't play anymore.

"Her observations were really helpful after she watched our game films," said Green. "We're used to being around her She's a coach. We respect her."

Hammond met Duncan and Parker several years ago at an NBA all-star game.

Hammond admits she could set back the hopes of other women coaches seeking NBA employment if she fails. But she's determined not to do that.


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