The National Basketball Association has its first full-time female assistant coach—and she has roots in Colorado.
Becky Hammon, a six-time WNBA All-Star and three-time All-American at Colorado State University, will join the staff of the 2013-2014 NBA champion San Antonio Spurs. The team made its announcement earlier this week. “I very much look forward to the addition of Becky Hammon to our staff,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said in a statement. “I’m confident her basketball IQ, work ethic, and interpersonal skills will be a great benefit to the Spurs.”
As for Hammon, she had this to say on Tuesday: “It’s a tremendous challenge, and it comes with tremendous responsibility. There have been so many other women that are doing really, really great things, and I’m just kind of following in their paths.”
Hammon, 37, plays guard for the San Antonio Stars and will retire at the end of the season as one of the WNBA’s greatest players. A 16-season veteran, the South Dakota native was named one of the league’s 15 best players ever in 2011. Hammon made her name initially with the New York Liberty—where she played after going undrafted out of CSU—and then was traded to the Stars. An interesting piece of trivia: She became a naturalized Russian citizen in 2008 so she could play for the country in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
While Hammon is the first full-time female coach in the NBA, she’s not the first female on the bench. That distinction belongs to Lisa Boyer, who was a volunteer assistant coach with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2001-2002 season.