Former San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon has officially taken the head coach job for the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces. Hammon has longtime worked with Future Hall of Fame coach George Popovich. She felt she was prepared and ready to be a head coach somewhere. While she understands becoming a head coach at any organization is difficult, she understands getting a head coaching job in the NBA seems nearly impossible.
There are currently six other female assistant coaches around the league. This includes Hammon’s teammate Teresa Weatherspoon, who coaches for the New Orleans Pelicans.
“NBA jobs are hard to get,” Hammon said Monday when speaking to reporters on a video call. “In some ways, I feel like the NBA maybe is close. In other ways, I feel like they’re a long way off from hiring [a woman head coach]. I don’t know when it could happen.”
Hammon was officially named the Aces head coach this past Friday. She will continue to work with the Spurs for the remainder of the regular season. Then she will prepare for May, which is the start of the WNBA season. Hammon interviewed several NBA teams for their head coaching jobs and was asked about the process that influenced her going to the WNBA.
“That is a loaded question. In some ways, I feel like I was very close,” Hammon said about getting an NBA head-coaching job. “This was about me, personally, being ready to have a team and want to sit in that chair, and then being presented with an opportunity to do so.
“I never left out coming back to the WNBA because I love the WNBA. I’m passionate about the women in it is — not only what they do on the court, but what they represent. And so I’m excited to give back.”
Hammon’s experience with Greg Popp
Hammon reflected on her time as an assistant coach to Greg Pop and believes it’s prepared her for this opportunity.
“I’ve sat under arguably the best coach in basketball history,” she said. “I’ve sat in on so many meetings, so many practices, so many preps for games. To continue to improve, I think you have to be a sponge throughout your whole career.”
Hammon played in the WNBA, then shifted her passion towards coaching after retiring in 2014. Hammon, who turns 45 in March, said she had no intentions of leaving the NBA until the Aces approached her.
“A lot did go into this decision, a lot of sleepless nights,” Hammon said. “I came to the conclusion that this was the best spot for me and my family, and an opportunity for me to sit in the big chair and be a head coach of a major professional sports league.
“I feel like I’m ready to have my own team. And this is the organization that made it very, very obvious they wanted me really, really bad. And so it’s always good to be wanted.”
Hammon’s optimistic approach to being head coach of the Las Vegas Aces
Las Vegas Aces President Nikki Fargas started approaching Hammon when she came to Las Vegas for her jersey retirement in September. Although, Hammon never played for the Aces, for the Spurs who relocated in the 2018 season and were renamed. Davis bought the Aces in January and has prioritized the strengthening of ties to its players. Fargas said there wasn’t a specific desire to replace Bill Laimbeer as a coach, however, Hamon made such an impression on the visit.
“Being the head coach of the Las Vegas Aces is a step forward and a step in the right direction for myself and for women’s basketball,” Hammon said. “I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this opportunity that I have. There’s something to being a head coach.
“I sat in a lot of [NBA] head-coaching interviews. Two things that people always said, ‘You’ve only been in San Antonio, and you’ve never been a head coach.’ Well, Mark Davis met me. Nikki met me. And they said, ‘That’s a head coach right now.'”
The Aces were swept by Seattle in the 2020 WNBA Finals in the bubble. Hammon recalled watching the series closely, in 2021, they fell to Phoenix in the semifinals. The Aces have star player and MVP A’ja Wilson.
“I do feel like implementing my offensive system and the defensive system is something that I’m really looking forward to,” Hammon said. “And I think that a championship is well within reach.”