The Las Vegas Aces introduced San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon as their new head coach earlier this week.
“I sat in head coaching interviews [in the NBA], and people said two things,” Hammon told reporters, per Business Insider’s Meredith Cash. “‘You’ve only been in San Antonio, and you’ve never been a head coach.’ Second, [The Aces] saw me as a head coach right now.”
“I’m someone who was passed over because I didn’t look the part. I wasn’t tall enough, I wasn’t fast enough… Hammon said. What I’d really like is to get to the point where people are hired based on what they bring to the table…”
There were reports that Hammon impressed Portland Trail Blazers officials when she went in for her interview. Still, former Blazers GM Neil Olshey already had his sights on Chauncey Billups, with whom he worked within the Los Angeles Clippers organization.
“We absolutely admire Becky,” Olshey said. “She did a great job. Obviously, making it as far as the ownership level of an interview process isn’t easy.” But, said Olshey: “She made it all the way to the ownership level, which is really an endorsement of just how far she’s come and how close she is to becoming a head coach.”
The former GM added, “Chauncey checked a lot of the boxes. We’re looking for leadership,” Olshey said. “He’s renowned as one of the great leaders we’ve had in the NBA. He’s a Hall of Fame point guard, in my opinion. Obviously, our two best players are guards like Chauncey. He can relate to them. He’s got the presence to hold guys accountable.”
When Tina Nguyen of KTNV 13 Action News in Las Vegas asked Becky Hammon why she never closed the door on the WNBA, she replied,
“I never closed the door on the WNBA because I love the WNBA… I’ve learned to just keep my options open and try to be open minded… When Nikki called, I listened.”
In a recent podcast episode of The WNBA Show with Daniel Artest and Myles Ehrlich, Artest shared despite many stating it was a downgrade for Hammon to leave the Spurs for the WNBA. It’s actually not at all.
“If we are being honest, she did what she had to do,” said Artest. He has been a die-hard Spurs fan since he was a kid.
“I felt that they have been dangling the first woman NBA coach carrot for so many years. I personally think she should have been a head coach in the NBA already. She has put in the work and has the respect of the players,” shared Artest.
“I thought it would have been amazing, but it has not happened. Mark Davis, the owner of the Aces and NFL owner has those deep pockets and basically made an offer that coach Hammon could not refuse. So, now here we are.”
Coach Hammon agrees that it’s not a downgrade for her or women’s basketball. In fact, it is a step in the right direction.
Hammond is taking over a team that was one year removed from reaching the WNBA Finals, but fell short to the Seattle Storm with an MVP talent in Aja Wilson and a supporting cast in place to one day win it all.