Being Becky Hammon: From South Dakota to San Antonio And Anywhere In Between

BY: Florian Gheorghe


She was born to be a coach…

Over a decade ago, in the small city of Loveland, Colorado, a young girl was trying to extend her basketball career beyond college. She was trying out for the semi-professional women’s basketball team Colorado Chill and her first real test was to play alongside Becky Hammon in a scrimmage. Hammon didn’t know anything about Kate Fagan’s styleyet after three minutes of playing in the same team, Becky walked over to Kate and said: “So it seems like you’re most effective as a spot-up shooter. Why don’t you start on the wing and find the open space when I drive. I’ll get you the ball.”

Of course, Beck Hammon was spot on even though she had just five years of professional basketball play under her belt.

Fast forward to July 2015, in a much more glamorous city – Las Vegas, on a much higher stage – NBA Summer League, Hammonis walking nervously up and down the sidelines carefully looking for mismatches and how well her team is executing. No, she’s not anxious to come in and play. She’s actually coaching the San Antonio Spurs tearing up borders andremodeling the status quo. She has just became the first female to coach in the Summer League, only one year after becoming the first full-time female assistant coach in NBA history.

Checking her notes, she doesn’t only try to coach men, she is actually trying to win and make the most of the Spurs summer roster in the process. She realizes that she didn’t drew the play clear enough and calls the team’s final timeout. This time, her pupils get it right and even get a good look at the basket; unfortunately, the shot rims out and Spurs loses to the New York Knicks inher first ever game as a head coach.

She was born to fight in a world dominated by men…

Becky Hammon’s childhood in South Dakota revolved around her father and her older brother. She had to keep up. She just couldn’t complain about the fact she is a girl. “You can’t just be a taker and be like, ‘Oh, I’m a girl so I don’t know how to do it. I can’t collect wood to put on the campfire because I’m a girl.’ I learned to work hard and to keep up,” the Spurs’ Summer League head coach said in a USA Today Q&A.

Several decades later, she finally succeeded breaking barrier after barrier in the NBA. With her new red shirt saying ‘Victory in Vegas’, she prepares to take a well-deserved Gatorade shower. The Gatorade starts pouring above her head as she savors the moment. Becky Hammon hasn’t only won the Las Vegas Championship Game – her team went for six straight wins after the loss against New York – but she also earned the respect of the whole basketball world, men and women alike. Tens of articles flood the Internet talking about her amazing success.

Most importantly however, she gave confidence to a group of basketball players who want to fulfill their dreams and play in the NBA. “It was a humbling experience. For all of us,” Finals MVP and one of Becky’s students, Jonathon Simmons told NBA TV after the championship game. “I really love her and I’ve only known her a couple of days. She’s a real cool coach. She’s a player coach. That’s something we all like.”

She was born to challenge the world…

Seven years ago, eager to be an Olympian, Becky Hammon made a controversial decision that stirred up the whole U.S. She became a Russian citizen and decided to play for Russia in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. She was tired of being rejected by her own peers and wanted to compete at the highest possible level. Because of that,some even went as far as questioning her loyalty to the U.S. flag.

Of course, they were wrong. And now they all know it. She continued to play for the San Antonio Stars in spite of all the noise and in 2013, after suffering a season-ending injury, she got to know the Spurs organization, at first attending the team’s practices and coaches’ meetings. One year later, she was hired full-time by head coach Gregg Popovich. Going even further, in 2015, Becky reached new heights and raised many eyebrows that are now seriously pondering whether Hammon would be a good head coach in the NBA.

For the Vegas champ, this is just a piece of her grand design. “To me, it’s always about the bigger picture. And we want to make sure that when your wife or your daughter goes for a job interview, she gets the same opportunity that a guy gets. That’s the bigger picture. That’s the bigger goal. Whether it’s basketball or the Army or CEOs in operating rooms, we want women there,” the coach told Associated Press.

Meet Becky Hammon, born to be a pioneer.

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